Work-Life Referral Program

Supervisors Promoted from Within Call for Special Care

When a supervisory position opens up, your immediate reaction as an employer may be to post a job opening to the general public. However, do not underestimate the value, efficiency, and cost savings of an internal hire from your non-manager ranks.

Although promoting from within is not always feasible, when it is, you likely will be boosting that employee’s loyalty, eliminating (or greatly shortening) the onboarding process, and saving dollars on hiring costs. But, if you take this step, be prepared. These new supervisors typically need special care to avoid rocky transitions.

Cover the basics

Do not make the mistake of promoting an employee to supervisor and then immediately moving on to other priorities. Most newly minted supervisors, no matter how strongly they performed in previous positions, will need some training and mentoring to grow into their new roles.

What specifically might they need? First, reflect upon your own experience for some ideas. If you had a smooth transition to a supervisory role, what made that possible? If it was a bumpy road, what would have made it smoother? Basic subjects that should be part of a supervisor boot camp include:

  • Employee goal-setting
  • Performance assessment
  • Performance management
  • Conflict resolution

Also, leadership training will be needed to supplement the nuts-and-bolts topics.

Assign a mentor

In devising a training program, you cannot anticipate every stumbling block a new supervisor will face. So, it is important to give that person a mentor who, ideally, has made the same transition.

Putting some structure around the mentoring program at first — such as a scheduled weekly check-in session — can give rise to important discussions that might not otherwise take place. These check-ins do not need to go on forever; three to six months may be all it takes.

Prepare for the worst

Unless the new supervisor will be moving to another department, prepare him or her for the challenges associated with becoming the boss of former co-workers. Just to name a few:

  • Resentment from employees who believe they should have gotten the promotion instead of the person you chose
  • Efforts by former co-workers to exploit friendship with their new boss by asking for or expecting special treatment
  • Difficulties the new supervisor may have in delivering honest but critical performance appraisals to former co-workers

It will be tempting for new supervisors to downplay their authority over former co-workers, but they need to understand going in that there is no getting around the fundamental change in the relationship. That change will probably require a cutback in purely social interaction with their former co-workers.

Give it a shot

The good news is that, if you have chosen wisely, a new supervisor will be able to surmount these hurdles, and the potential benefits can be striking. Our firm can provide more information and other budget-smart hiring ideas.

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