Hardest Part of Becoming a Supervisor

You may dream of the day when you are promoted to supervisor, but take heed and remember the old expression “it’s lonely at the top.” Although there are certain perks to moving into upper management and the extra money certainly doesn’t hurt, once you are the one that has to make all the decisions things become a whole lot more interesting. While the good part usually outweighs the bad, the hardest part of becoming a supervisor is often learning the ropes.


    Making the move from simply being a co-worker to being the one in charge is not only one of the hardest parts of becoming a supervisor, but also a time of transition. Supervisors must not only learn to separate themselves from being part of the team, but build a new identity of being the person that runs the team. They may discover peers that were once considered friends have become distant and aloof. An adjustment must also be made -- instead of being in on the office gossip at the water cooler, they may now find themselves a subject of it.


    In the book, Becoming a Manager: How New Managers Master the Challenges of Leadership, author Linda Annette Hill states that learning to delegate was considered the most difficult challenge managers faced in managing subordinates’ performance. Her research showed that most new supervisors go through two phases. Fearing that they are delegating too much of their work to subordinates and that the work that is delegated will not be completed correctly. Learning to balance between the two often is seen as one of the harder parts of management.

Making Decisions

    Supervisors must constantly make decisions, sometimes with little or no information to go on. One of the hardest challenges, especially for new supervisors, is to make a decision without second guessing as to whether they have taken the right course of action or not. Over time, the supervisor must learn to weigh the available options and then make a decision about which action to take in a quick and efficient manner.

Termination of Employees

    Because of the emotional undercurrents of letting someone go, supervisors often find that telling workers that they are fired or letting someone go is often a big challenge. The termination not only affects the person leaving, but when it is done without an explanation to the other workers, it can affect those that remain. If the firing seems unfair, workers may resent the supervisor; or, it can make them insecure about their own jobs.

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