13 Tips For a New Supervisor to Get Started On the Right Foot

Last Updated on May 30, 2022 by Milton Campbell

As a new supervisor, there will be many mistakes you’ll run into and issues you’ll face that you haven’t dealt with before. There are some things you likely won’t know about managing people until it is too late. That is why I’ve compiled this list of tips for a new supervisor to prevent you from making costly mistakes as a first-time supervisor.

Image of a man covering his face representing a new supervisor, leader, boss, manager mistake for factors to avoid as a new supervisor section. Tips for a new supervisor.

Table of Contents

Tips for a New Supervisor and Factors to Avoid?


Micromanaging is something a lot of new supervisors do when they get hired into their new job. In reality, trying to control every aspect and fix every minor problem within a work area can lead to a lot of negative effects.

Negative effects of micromanaging.

  • Decreased productivity – Although the goal is to increase productivity, typically micromanaging leads production in the opposite direction. Productivity falls for many reasons when employees are micromanaged, like employees having to wait for the boss to make decisions.
  • High employee turnover – Micromanaging leads to a high turnover rate because employees get fed up with every aspect of their job being controlled. This is especially true for some of the best, most experienced employees. Many times, these experienced employees know how to do the job better than you and they get tired of their voice not being heard.
  • Lower morale – Morale is decreased when employees are micromanaged. Most people want to be able to do their job to the best of their ability. Micromanaging limits what each employee can do. As a result, people can not do their job fully. Consequently, people begin to believe they are not trusted and their voices are not heard.
  • Reduced innovation – Multiple ideas and collaboration are ideal for the best innovation. Consequently, in areas that are micromanaged, innovation is severely inhibited. In general, micromanagers don’t listen to the ideas of others. The only idea they hear is their own.
  • Limits employee growth – Employees with the freedom to make decisions have more personal and professional growth. They may make mistakes occasionally but so do you. Mistakes are some of our most important lessons.
  • Less time to get supervisory tasks completed – Not only does micromanaging affect your employees, but it also gives you less time to complete tasks that only you can do. Thus, the more you can delegate to your employees, the more time you have to do other tasks.

Related content: Why People Who Are Micromanaged Eventually Quit.

When is it necessary to micromanage?

There are times when it may be necessary to micromanage as a new supervisor. When you have new and inexperienced employees, they require a lot more direction and control that may warrant micromanagement. Also, time-sensitive tasks may require a little more control by you as the supervisor. Another time that may require micromanagement is when new processes are implemented, but only if you know the process best. Although there are times when micromanagement may be necessary, it is not a great way to lead and should be used sparingly.

Related content: 6 Times When Micromanaging Might Actually Be Necessary.

Being Too Hands-Off

While micromanaging can be an issue, so can being too hands-off as a first-time manager. There are situations where it’s acceptable to be hands-off but supervisors need to at least know what is going on in their areas. It’s important to know when to be hands-off, when to micromanage, and when to be somewhere in between.

When you have experienced employees that know how to do the job, it’s ok to be hands-off. When you have new employees or when you have problem employees, being too hands-off can lead to more problems. It’s also good to show your employees that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty when needed. For example, if you are faced with an unusually large order, you may need to get in there and help your team get it done.

To learn about 10 common leadership styles and how to use them click here.

Dealing with Your Former Peers as a New Supervisor

When you get promoted from within the company, you may have to supervise your former peers. This can cause some special issues and put you in some tricky situations.

Some of these peers might be people you consider your friends. You don’t have to stop being their friend but both of you need to be able to recognize the separation between your work relationship and non-work relationship. It’s important not to show favoritism to these individuals over everybody else. Therefore, they should be treated the same as everybody in your work area or this can cause issues with other employees.

Some of these peers may have been going for the same position that you got. Always show these people and everybody else under your supervision respect. Furthermore, make sure you show them how much you value them and avoid giving off the attitude that you are better than them. If these people are deserving of a higher position work with them to find them another spot either within or outside the company. Given that they are great employees don’t forget to tell them how much you value them.

You may have not gotten along with all your coworkers before your promotion. If this is the case, you need to evaluate why you didn’t get along with those employees. Was it because they were bad at the job? If so it’s now your job to try to get them up to a proficient level. To that end, that may mean more training, more feedback, or maybe finding them a new position that suits their talents a little better.

If you didn’t get along with some of your peers because your personalities didn’t mesh well together, you need to wipe the slate clean. Above all, you and your now subordinates should have a different relationship that should be on a more professional level. Talk with these employees and let them know what you expect of them.

Feeling like an Imposter

It’s not uncommon to feel like an imposter as a first-time manager. For many, this is a very normal feeling. You work so hard to get the job, then you do and you may feel like you have no idea what you are doing. You are just trying to fake it until you make it.

There is nothing wrong with the feeling. The reason you are having that feeling is that you want to do a good job. Furthermore, nobody expects a brand new supervisor to know everything or make the right call 100% of the time. Even the most experienced supervisors make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to look for a mentor to help guide you and give you advice. Even though you will make mistakes, remember that someone saw something in you to allow you to be the leader.

Inability to Make Decisions as a New Supervisor

Making decisions can be tough for new managers. The fear of making the wrong decision leads to a delay or even no decision being made. Although you may not always make the right choice, you need to be able to make a decision. Your team is looking to you for answers and direction. Making the wrong call sometimes is just part of the job. That being said, you should gather as much information as you can and make the best decision you can with the given information. Don’t overthink decisions to the point of a decision not being made when your team is waiting on you to make a decision.

Image of a man with his hands on his chin thinking about what decision to make representing new supervisor, boss, leader, manager, first time supervisor overthinking.

Lack of Communication

Communication is one of the most important leadership skills a supervisor needs. Thus, make it a point to communicate your vision and direction with your subordinates. Communication needs to happen in both a group and one on one setting. Additionally, you should always make yourself available to your employees to communicate. Whether it’s a feedback session or just a chat about how things are going, always keep the lines of communication open.

Trying to Please Everybody

Many new bosses try to please everyone all the time. Trust me, trying to please your bosses and your employees can get very daunting. There are many times when you as the supervisor must determine what is best for your work area. Therefore, sometimes this means doing something that your employees may not like at the time. On the other hand, sometimes this means having discussions with your boss explaining why it’s not best to do what they want.

Instead of trying to please everybody, you should be focused on doing what’s best for the company without sacrificing the morale of your team. Being the bad guy is not fun but your team will respect you if you can explain why you have to tell them no or make them do something they don’t want to at the time.

Not Enough or Bad Feedback

Feedback is the foundation for improvement and growth. Therefore, you should have feedback with your employees often. This means both positive and negative feedback, formal and informal feedback sessions. Also allow your employees to give you feedback on how you’re doing as well. As a result, you may get some eye-opening results in areas where you are lacking.

If your supervisor isn’t very consistent about giving feedback, ask for it. Under those circumstances, a simple question like “What areas would you like to see me improve at my job?” could be very helpful in your growth as a leader.

Not Having a Defined Vision or Goals

Having a vision and goals provides a sense of purpose and direction for you and your team. You should have both short and long-term goals for both yourself and your team. As a leader, you inspire your team with your vision. After all, everything you guys and gals do should fit into your vision and bring you closer to achieving your goals. If it doesn’t, then that task should be reevaluated for relevance. Every team member must know and understand your vision and goals accordingly. All in all, if they understand how they fit into the vision, they will help you reach your goals.

For help creating a vision statement click here.

Hiring the Wrong People

Hiring the right people for the job is extremely important for supervisors. After all, hiring the right person for the job can make a supervisor’s life very easy. However, hiring the wrong person can make a supervisor’s life very hard. This is one of the crucial tips for a new supervisor.

As a supervisor, you want to ensure you have as many candidates for the job as you can by being involved in the recruitment process. The more candidates you have the better the chances that you will find what you are looking for. Furthermore, go into recruitment, interviewing, and onboarding with a plan. Understand that someone may not be the best fit for the position you are hiring even though they are a great worker. Know what qualities you are looking for in the person before you begin the hiring process.

Once you hire somebody the process is not over. Take an active role in onboarding your employees. Consequently, not doing this could turn a good hire into a bad employee or possibly end up with that employee leaving the company. Don’t just drop this employee off with another employee to train them, follow up and ask how it’s going.

Ensure you give these employees your expectations, visions, and goals early. Also, give these employees frequent feedback and ask them to give you feedback or suggestions on what you and your employees can do better. Believe it or not, these outside eyes can provide some valuable insight.

Related content: Why Employee Motivation Is Important (& How to Improve It)

Not Understanding Employee Motivation

Employee motivation can vary a lot between employees. Not all your employees’ motivations are the same as your motivations. Motivations can be things such as money, time off, power, promotions, public recognition, sense of purpose, and many other things. Additionally, more than one thing may motivate an employee. Thus, learning what motivates each employee as an individual, is very useful information for a supervisor. This information can be used to not only improve the performance of your team but also increase the morale of your employees.

Trying To Do Too Much as a First Time Supervisor

It’s hard to come into a new position and not take on every task or extra project your boss has. Eventually, this can hurt a new boss. This can lead to burnout very quickly because you can only sustain trying to do everything for so long. You will also likely put out work that is not high quality because you are struggling to keep up.

Your work center will suffer as well. As a result, your time helping, mentoring, and building working relationships with your employees is limited. As a matter of fact, as a new supervisor prioritization is your key to success. You can’t do everything, especially on your own. There’s nothing wrong with discussing priorities with your boss. When it’s all said and done, you may be surprised that something that seemed like a hot priority to you is not such a priority to your superior.

Trying to make too many changes within the work center is an issue many times too. Employee morale and productivity may be hurt when you make too many changes too quickly. Take your time to observe for a little bit when you first start supervising so you get a true idea of what is working and what isn’t. With this in mind, get feedback from your employees on what they think would make the work area more efficient.

When you are ready to make changes to the area, ensure you are communicating with your team the reasons why you are making those changes. Sharing your vision and getting your employees to buy in consequently makes the whole process exponentially easier.

Not Understanding Your Role as a New Supervisor

Many times workers think they know what the supervisor’s job is until they get into that position. When you are in the supervisory position there are a lot of things that can get confusing when it comes to roles. Some people have a hard time letting go of the job they were doing and tend to spend a lot of time helping out in that area instead of doing the supervisory tasks needed to keep the area running effectively.

Other times, new supervisors go on power trips thinking they are better than everyone else because of their new job. A strong leader knows that the workers below them are just as important if not more important than they are. Even though you will have to tell people what to do at times, it’s important to always do it with respect. Your employees can make or break you as a supervisor.

Above all, if you find yourself struggling to understand your role as a supervisor, talk to your boss. Find out what their vision is for you. Given that information, you can determine your vision and goals for your work area.


Even seasoned supervisors aren’t perfect all the time. The important part is to always strive to be better than you were the day before. Learning leadership styles and tactics is a great way to improve your skills but even reading all the strategies in the world can’t replace experience. Therefore, practicing various leadership styles and tactics to find out what works best for you in various situations is essential in your leadership development. As hard as it seems in the beginning, it does get easier and leading becomes natural.

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