12 Quick Management Tips for First-Time Supervisors

happy manager at desk

You’ve been promoted.

Even as you’re shaking your boss’s hand, you start to worry.

“Will I be a good manager?”

What makes a good manager, anyway?

Taking a step up to your first management role is a bigger leap than many expect. Don’t get caught out!

These quick management tips won’t turn you into an incredible leader overnight, but they will show you how to be an effective first-time manager.

#1 Understand Your Role Has Changed

If you’re being promoted from co-worker to supervisor, you can’t keep the same relationships with your colleagues. When you have that first talk with your former coworkers, explain how things are going to change.

Talk about boundaries. Explain that you can’t be drawn into watercooler gossip anymore and that you want to treat everyone fairly – regardless of whether you were friendly when you were colleagues.

By communicating this stance as early as possible, you’ll settle quickly into your new role and avoid any accusations of favouritism.

#2…But Don’t Go Too Far

Although you can’t be BFFs with your colleagues anymore, there’s no need to transform into Scrooge just because your job title’s changed.

It’s perfectly OK to be friendly as a supervisor – just as long as you understand and respect professional boundaries.

Becoming a taskmaster will alienate your former co-workers, who thought they knew who you were and how you operate.

#3 Clarify Your Role

Speak to your boss about the specifics of the role. Understand how your goals match with those of your boss and the company as a whole.

As a junior supervisor, you’re not in a position to start rewriting company policies or making significant changes to the working environment.

Instead, your role is largely to do with keeping your new boss happy. By clarifying expectations with your new manager, it’ll be easier to understand what you actually need to do to excel.

#4 Your Team Aren’t Mindreaders

You’ll be familiar with many of the tasks you delegate because you probably had to perform them only a few weeks ago – but it’s not fair to assume that your former colleagues can perform them in the same way.

Don’t be vague. You’ll only have yourself to blame if an employee misunderstands and completes the task in the wrong way. Be specific, and explain tasks that the employee is uncertain about.

#5 Avoid Micromanagement

On the other side of the coin, you need to get used to giving up control over basic day-to-day tasks. Once you’re confident an employee understands your instructions, there’s no need to hover over their shoulder or watch their every move.

By showing your former co-workers you trust them, you’ll earn their respect.

#6 Learn How to Delegate

Delegating tasks isn’t as easy as the best managers make it look. You need to understand each individual’s skills, workload, and strengths, and how to prioritise tasks within your team.

The obvious person for the job isn’t always the right one. Most importantly, you need to learn how to delegate quickly, or you won’t be able to able to cope with your workload.

#7 You Aren’t a Dictator

Don’t let all that power go to your head! Managers don’t just need to be able to delegate tasks and keep their team on task. You also need to listen and learn.

Feedback is particularly important for first-time supervisors who may struggle to recognise problems within their team. Ask for feedback, take criticism on board, and adjust your approach based on it.

#8 Don’t Change Everything Immediately

We’ve all worked in a team where a new manager comes in and feels they immediately need to shake things up, just to prove they’re making a difference. Don’t be that manager.

If you do want to make changes, take several weeks (or even months) to plan carefully, seeking input from team members and your boss. Roll out any changes slowly and see how your team responds.

#9 Do Your Homework

You might have worked at the same company for years, but now you’re a manager you really need to revisit all your formal company policies. Read the employee handbook again, learn disciplinary procedures, social media policies and the tedious parts of employment contracts.

This is particularly important if you’re making the jump from colleague to supervisor in the same company – you need to show that you can be taken seriously as a manager. Playing by the rules will certainly help with that!

#10 Take Responsibility, But Not All the Credit

If a project doesn’t work out, don’t pass (all) the blame onto team members. As a supervisor, you must take responsibility for the performance of your team.

On the other hand, if your team excels, you don’t get to claim all the credit!

#11 Treat Your Team Fairly, Not Equally

Say two of your team members always get back from lunch later than they’re meant to. If you were treating employees equally, you’d send out a nagging email asking everyone to return after lunch by a certain time or be disciplined.

The well-behaved employees will be annoyed that they were nagged when they hadn’t done anything wrong. Instead, a manager treating employees fairly would only speak to the two culprits.

#12 Accept Help

No-one was born a great manager. You’ll do most of your learning on-the-job, but you should also look for other training opportunities.

If you’re ever offered the chance to go on a management course, take it. Alternatively, try and find a mentor (either from within or outside the company) who can give you advice when you need it.

Final Thoughts


Becoming a supervisor for the first time is intimidating – particularly if you’re taking the step up to manage your former colleagues.

Even with all these tips, you’ll make mistakes. But the true test of a new manager is how you respond to your errors. Will you learn from them?

We’ve got plenty more staff management tips on the RotaCloud blog. One aspect new managers struggle with is discipline. How would you manage persistently late employees?