7 Things I Learned as a First Time Supervisor

College graduates often complain that they cannot find jobs because they lack experience.  Some I have even heard whine that the years of experience expected was unrealistic.  In fact, I think I may have said so myself.  However, I have learned that there are some things that you do not learn in the classroom that help me understand the value of experience.

 

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I graduated college in 2011, but still consider myself fairly “Fresh Out of College.”  I have stumbled through several jobs that weren’t quite the right fit, but believing each one represented a stepping stone to the grand prize.  Each job was a trade up, leading me somewhere… I just kept holding on to that. This wasn’t always the case, sometimes I lost sight of the bigger picture, forgot to put my trust in God, and even struggled with possible depression.  Being on the other end, I see the patterns God weaved into each experience to bring them together for something both bigger and better.

 

Nearly a year ago the BIG trade up finally cashed in, and I found a job that fit my education and my passions… AND they were willing to take a chance on me.  The job was to be a supervisor over 7 marriage education teams; All of which were older than me, with the company longer, and some also more educated than I.

 

It was intimidating!  But when fear is involved, you know you are on the right track! Because fear means you are on the edge of something new, fear leads you to growth. (1)

 

So what are the things I didn’t learn in the classroom, but that I learned on the job?

Let me give them to you.

  1. Read everything you can about your job and the place you work.
    • As a supervisor you are a representative of your office, so you better know your stuff.  I spent my first two weeks reading everything I could.
      • Job Descriptions: My job description, the job descriptions of my co-workers, and my team.  I needed to know what was expected of me, as well as those I supervise, and those I work with.
      • The Employee Handbook: Know the rules, so you know how to keep them and how to help those under you keep them.
      • Anything else you can get your hands on: I did a lot of research on the company I work for.  Become familiar with their website, all of their programs, and get a strong and well-rounded knowledge of where you work.
  2. Always take a Solution with you.
    • You are going to come across problems, some you may not know the best way to handle.  Hopefully you have a supervisor who understands that you are in the learning process and they are open to walking through the process with you in the first couple of months, but don’t seek help without attempting to find a solution on your own first.
    • You are a supervisor now, this is a “Big-Girl” or “Big-Boy” job.  Take initiative to find a solution on your own, discuss it with your supervisor, and then take action.  Showing your thought-process will earn trust over time and will also grow their confidence in your decisions.  It will also give your supervisor the opportunity to shape you in the proper direction.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions.
    • It’s much easier to make a fool of yourself in the privacy of your boss’ office then out in the work field in front of your employees.  If you don’t know the answer admit it, find it, and give it.
  4. Do not Overlook Issues.
    • It’s best to address issues immediately and effectively. Don’t gossip or complain.  It not only makes you look like a fool, but it proves that you are untrustworthy and unprofessional. Not to mention you have some good chances of it biting you back in the butt.
  5. Document Everything.
    • Memory and time can fail us. From my very first training I was told to document everything- the good and the bad.  It’s important to keep specific instances documented and filed for future use on reviews, reprimands, and important conversations.
      • The Good: Whenever someone I supervise does something good, I immediately compliment and thank them.  Then I document it so that I can resurface it for their annual review.
      • The Bad:  Everyone makes mistakes and we need to have grace for those.  However, we also need to notice those mistakes becoming habits. Habits are reflective of someone’s character and we can’t have a lack of integrity on our team.  Discuss the mistake immediately and offer a chance to fix the mistake, but note if the pattern persists.
      • The Ugly: If a conversation turns sour, be sure to document it all.  Your emotions and time may rearrange the facts and you need to document everything as objectively as you can in case you need to revisit it.
  6. Constantly Seek Knowledge.
    • You are not a leader if you are not a learner. You need to invest in your knowledge to be the best leader you can be.  Read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to blogs and e-newsletters, plan to attend a conference once a year.  Do whatever it takes to stay energized, focused, and the best you for your team.
  7. Always be Humble.
    • Just because you are the supervisor and a leader, doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes.  We all do.  If we are wrong, we can’t be wrong long.  Let’s own it and be humble enough to repent of it.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned on the job?  What steps did you take to be the best supervisor you could be?

1. I have heard this concept of fear from various podcast and books from both Michael Hyatt and Bob Goff.
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