Dear Liz,

I’ve just accepted a supervisory job which I’ll begin next week.

I know the people I will be supervising. They don’t work on my team. I’m moving to a new team as I begin my new job. I like all of the people in the team but they have a lot more experience with their areas of expertise than I do. I probably have more business experience than they do. I’m not sure how to step into my supervisory role.

I’m not sure what steps to take. Any guidance would be very welcome!



Dear Arnaud,

Congratulations on your new assignment! That’s magnificent news. Your first priority will be to understand the work in your new department from a five-thousand-foot altitude — to understand the inputs and outputs and how the moving pieces fit together. You’ll gain that understanding by asking questions, watching and listening.

You’ll be an observer at first. You’ll tell your teammates “I am new to this role of course, and to your department. You all know more about the work than I do, but I’d still like to be helpful whenever I can. If there is a process in need of improvement or another kind of roadblock, I’d be happy to help move the roadblock out of the way.”

You will learn to supervise people by doing it. You won’t barge in and start changing things or making pronouncements. You will earn your team’s respect by respecting them for their knowledge and their efforts.

As you study the work in your new department to understand where your leadership time and attention will have the most positive impact, you will also be earning your teammates’ respect. How will you do that?

Here are seven things leaders do to earn the respect of their team members:

You will organize a regular staff meeting at which you’ll tell your teammates “At each of our staff meetings, I’ll share with you whatever news I have about the company’s progress and challenges. We’ll brainstorm about the most important topics for us to consider each week, from schedules to project statuses to vacation times or whatever we need to address. I want to hear from you about anything we need to pay attention to. I want to know how I can help you best.”

You’ll meet one-on-one with each of your employees to talk about his or her work specifically. This is not a meeting at which an employee has to justify his or her job’s existence, so make sure your employees know that. It’s a meeting at which you’ll listen to whatever your employees want to tell you, and you’ll ask them how you can help them accomplish their goals.

You will be careful not to criticize, second-guess or undermine your teammates, who know their jobs better than you do. You’ll take an advisory role. You’ll remember that people work best when they’re respected and given the latitude to do their jobs their own way. You may have a better idea, but your better idea can wait. You need your team’s respect more than you need to impress your boss with a quick fix that will make you look good.

You will treat your team members’ observations and suggestions with the utmost respect. That means that when someone tells you something in confidence, you’ll keep their confidence by keeping their feedback to yourself. You won’t talk about one teammate with another employee, no matter what.

Credit: Forbes