How to Transition from Co-Worker to Supervisor (With as Few Bumps as Possible)

How to Transition from Co-Worker to Supervisor (With as Few Bumps as Possible)

Are you trying to make the transition from co-worker to supervisor? Have you found yourself promoted, dealing with an extra workload, and in charge of a team? Congratulations! The next step is realizing the care and responsibility you need to motivate employees who are no longer your co-workers. Your supervisory skills are tested with a supervisory promotion – and the transition is not always easy!


Congratulations! You got it! The promotion you have been dreaming about has finally been offered to you! But as you walk into your new office, you realize that you have not only just received a significant pay raise and more holiday time, but a lot more responsibility and the challenge of overseeing your co-workers. You are no longer just a friend or co-worker – you are now the boss!

When a person starts a job, usually they begin at the lowest spot on the totem pole with the goal of working their way to the top. As people strive to climb the corporate ladder, they are faced with the challenge of how to transition from co-worker to supervisor. The transition is not always easy and sometimes it’s intolerable.

The Transition From Co-Worker to Supervisor

For example, take Lacey’s transition from co-worker to supervisor: Lacey was working with her company for four years when she was offered the supervisory trainer position. Although a few other co-workers had applied for the position, the boss chose Lacey as she was very organized, approachable, and knowledgeable about the position.

However, as Lacey is younger than most of the staff; she finds it difficult to approach some of the co-workers who have more seniority with the company (who also think they should have received the promotion!) regarding some pertinent issues. She feels that by forcing her supervisory position onto her co-workers, the issue will just get worse.

How would you handle this situation? How would you approach this co-worker? When learning how to transition from co-worker to supervisor, there are a few tips that will help you answer these questions and make the transition as smooth as possible.

Be Authentic.

Do not be someone you are not. You have worked with these people for a few years already and they know who you are, so it is not necessary to prove to them who you are. A promotion does not change who you are, it only changes what you do, your title and your workload.

Be a Team Player.

You may now be the supervisor, but remember it takes a team of people to get the job done. You are there to help your co-workers; to serve them, come underneath by supporting them and to make it better for them whatever way you can. Remember that it takes teamwork to make a dream work.

Encourage Communication.

Keep the lines of communication open. It may take some time for your co-workers to feel that they can approach you with some issues. Keep your office door open and incorporate regular meetings where your employees have the opportunity to talk to you about any issues they may have.

Take a Stand.

Do not be afraid to confront your former co-workers. If you need to address a certain situation, do not back down. Take a deep breath and gently dive in! Your employees need to see that you will not be disrespected and walked over; you are their leader whether they like it or not. They will probably appreciate what you have to say, especially if they know you are on their side.

Good Things in Small Doses.

One of the worst things you could do in your new position is to immediately incorporate changes. This will scare your employees and instill fear in the office. If some things need to be adjusted, take it one step at a time. Your employees will probably embrace the changes down the road and be thankful for the fresh outlook. Just remember that with any kind of change, there will be resistance, so be prepared for it.

Remember that when learning how to transition from co-worker to supervisor, it will take time and patience. You’ll find that you won’t be comfortable in your role over night and there may be a few bumps along the way. Just remember that bumps can be ironed out and a smooth transition is possible. It’s all up to you.

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