Everyone dreads getting a new supervisor. It may end up working out great for you, but the early days, weeks and months are a major disruption. Did you ever wonder what it’s like for the new supervisor, what’s going through their mind and what’s in their heart?

I’ve been in the “new supervisor” position several times in my life. It’s not easy. Allow me to share some perspectives on being the new leader.

Know that I’m anxious too. The new supervisor wonders what it will be like, who they will be working with, wondering what challenges and obstacles are ahead.

My success as a leader isn’t based on what I do, it’s based on what the team does.  When I assume responsibility as a leader, I know I am now responsible for the careers of all of those who report directly to me and their team members who indirectly report to me. That’s a significant responsibility. Our success is linked together. A good leader understands the importance and significance of this dynamic.

Another dynamic is change. Organizations and people must continually adapt and change to survive. In taking on a new leadership role, I’ve never been told, “Don’t try and make things better, keep everything just as it is.” The opposite is true, leaders are told to make changes that are necessary to make improvements.

My first responsibility is to get to know everyone I work with, personally and professionally, as well as the current systems and processes. I’ll ask many questions and know that when I do it will make some feel as if I don’t trust them, but questions are the way I will learn how things work today. Trust me, I don’t want to make quick changes unless it’s an emergency.

As I meet and talk with my new staff, I’m trying to ascertain their openness to change. Do they cling tightly to what they know and have been doing or are they willing and ready to embrace change.

Contrary to what employees might want to believe, a new leader doesn’t take over wanting to “clean house” and replace team members. That’s the last thing I want to do. I prefer to work with them. I owe them my best to coach, train, push, pull, challenge and encourage them toward improvement. I want them to be the best version of themselves as they can be, which will help the team be stronger.

Some may not improve and even be holding the team back. I cannot let one or two individuals negatively impact the team’s performance. As their leader, I need wisdom in determining the fitness of each team member for their role. When it’s not a good fit for their gifts and skills, or if they are unwilling to change after being provided opportunities, then I must help them go where they can succeed, hopefully within the organization.

When there isn’t another opportunity within the organization, i need courage to act, not to avoid a difficult conversation and do what is best for the team, recognizing it may not be popular. In making that decision and having the conversation, it’s important to treat them with dignity and respect, as well as providing necessary transitional support.

Act with courage, and may the Lord be with those who do well” (2 Chronicles 19:11).

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