Merge's Blog

First-time supervisor? Here’s an important reminder

When you become a first-time supervisor or a first-time team leader, you have to be VERY aware that for all practical purposes, you are essentially changing occupations.  This is true even if you’re becoming the supervisor of a department you are very familiar with.  And if you are not conscious of this fundamental change, then you are going to struggle with your role as a first-time supervisor, and perhaps more importantly jeopardize your success as a leader.  Here’s one aspect of this change you MUST take into account.

You are now responsible for managing other people’s time.

In the past, in your role as an individual contributor or a technical specialist, you were accountable for your own time.  Sometimes people say to me, that’s not entirely true, because even as an individual contributor or a technical specialist, many aspects of your time were influenced by factors that were outside your control.  Sure.  Fair enough.  But if that was true before, imagine what happens when as a supervisor or manager, this effect is compounded even further.

Consider this: each one of your staff’s ability to manage time is influenced by a series of external factors, but now as supervisor you have accountability for the entire range.  If you’re not prepared for this, it can be very overwhelming, and it can make you feel like you are losing control.  But if you are conscious of and expecting it, then you can take deliberate steps to systematically understand and prioritize the various responsibilities in your department.  So appreciate that as a supervisor or manager, you are now responsible for managing other people’s time.  Recognize that.  And adjust your mindset accordingly.

I would love to hear about your experiences as a first-time supervisor or leader.  Please share by adding your comment below.

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