A new supervisor may be a company’s loneliest soul


First-time supervisors are usually very proud of their appointment. Their new position may be a dream come true or a sign of trust and well-earned career development. The salary is usually a little better, too. The new supervisor is full of anticipation for the future and thoughts about good leadership.

However, the daily grind may also bring disappointments. The goals set by the employer are more demanding than before, the supervisor begins to doubt their own competence, and the employees are talking back.

What is going on? Is this what supervisory work is really like?

Ups and downs and excess baggage

New supervisors will face challenges and will find themselves dragging excess baggage behind them. They do not yet have enough experience. They do not know exactly what their responsibilities and obligations are, and aspects such as labor law, holiday rights and occupational safety were not covered in detail at school. Their workload may increase, especially if they have been promoted within their previous organization—it’s not always that simple to get rid of your old duties.

The new supervisor may also hold misconceptions about the role or behavior of a supervisor, and they may not even notice that they have started to behave in a way that is not natural to them. This takes up a great deal of energy

Employees may deliberately test their limits, and experienced employees may jokingly disobey and even pull pranks. If the new supervisor was appointed from among the team, people who also competed for the position may try to avoid them and even cause delays out of jealousy. A new supervisor appointed from outside the company may feel exploited or even belittled professionally. The consensus may seem to be that an outsider cannot possibly be as skillful and knowledgeable as people who have worked for the company for longer.

It’s no surprise, then, that the new supervisor may feel lonely, especially when the goals set by the employer are not flexible. They don’t know what they should do. How can they exert their leadership and motivate employees? To what extent should they be flexible? What is the best way to address underperformance without ruining the atmosphere?

We can help

Peer support is an excellent and credible way for a new supervisor to strengthen their professional identity. Some organizations have created systematic mentoring systems to help new supervisors during an orientation period, for example. The new supervisor has someone to identify and share experiences with. However, in the absence of such systems, a new boss seldom has the courage to talk about their need for help and support. That would require them to acknowledge their feeling of inadequacy, which we all know to be difficult.

Another option is to hire an external expert to coach the new supervisor and help them address problems and think about their responses in advance. Coaching is even more successful if it can be based on key results of personal assessments and other tools measuring the quality of supervisory work. Coaching works miracles if its duration is customized to the supervisor’s needs.

When the new supervisor begins to see their role and leadership skills more clearly, they can focus on what is essential: creating favorable conditions for employees’ work, improving coping and well-being at work, and increasing productivity. The effects of coaching can be measured in money.

What next?

If you can relate to any of the circumstances described above, we encourage you to contact Psycon. We have close to twenty supervisory coaches. You can reach them through the contact form on our website. Or you can always give them a call.


Pekka Salmela
Area Director, Partner
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