Merge's Blog

Tip #3 for the first-time supervisor – watch out for the push-pull reality!

For the last two weeks, I have been posting video blogs about the challenges that come with first-time supervisory roles.  Here is a third one: the first-time supervisor often experiences something that I call the push-pull reality of leadership.  The push-pull reality of leadership is when you get pushed and pulled in different directions.

The push-pull reality

As a supervisor or manager, you will get “pushed” into roles that you may either not be comfortable with, or quite frankly may not even have the skills to do.  For example, you may need to have a discussion with an employee about tardiness at work, or even worse, personal hygiene or body odour.  Now, even for the most experienced managers, this discussion is not an easy one, and if you’re a new leader, it’s a giant step outside your comfort zone.  Chances are, you’ve never received training on how to have this discussion.  Yet, in your new role, you will be “pushed” into these sorts of activities.

At the same time, you will be “pulled” back into procedures and activities that you were comfortable with and experienced in doing.  For example, your replacement in your old job will call you and ask you to come over and help him with some area of your previous responsibilities.  Because you want to help, and because the tasks come easily to you, after all this is your area of expertise, you will be “pulled” back into that role.

This push and pull creates stress, and as a supervisor or manager, you need to recognize it as a reality of your new role. You cannot eliminate it, but if you acknowledge it, then you can act positively to overcome it.  You can seek out a mentor to help you learn how to have that difficult discussion with an employee, you can consciously and thoughtfully work on encouraging your successor in your old job to become independent and self-sufficient. My point is that you can only take positive action, IF you know to expect this push-pull reality, and therefore you are prepared to deal with it.

Well, so far I’ve outlined three specific challenges that come when you transition to a first-time supervisor role.  But what else do you have to add to the list?  I plan on doing some more instalments in this series soon, so I would love to hear your perspectives.  Please add your comment below.

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