Questions to Ask Yourself Before
You Accept a Supervisory Position
We all have visions of moving
ahead in the corporate world. For most of us, that means
leaving behind some hands-on work and instead directing and
being responsible for the work of others. But before you decide
to accept a supervisory role and leave an administrative one,
ask yourself the following questions.
Will I be willing to delegate
to others and not feel I need to do it all myself? Delegation
requires trust in the ability of others to reach a mutually
defined goal, often through a process that may be very
different than the one you would use, but which still gets the
job done. If you can’t let go, you can’t move up.
How would I rate my
communication skills? Making this career transition will
require that you perfect your ability to listen and provide
precise instructions. It also means that your writing skills
need to be impeccable and all your written communications
clear and concise.
Will I be able to put the good
of the company or department above my need to be liked? As an
administrator, you served in many PR roles and surely mastered
the art of diplomacy. As a supervisor, you must, at times,
look beyond people and focus on budgets, timelines, and other
inanimate work qualities. This may require you to support
unpopular decisions and go against the work group.
How comfortable am I learning
new things? As a leader, you will be on the forefront of
change. This means you will have to often be the first to try
new procedures and constantly look for better ways of doing
things. Even if you prefer the old ways, as part of
management, you must sell co-workers on the new ways.
Am I willing to put in more
time and work harder than anyone else in my group? If you’re
not, then you cannot be the pacesetter. Your new role will
necessitate that you walk the talk and lead the way.
Will I be willing to roll up
my sleeves and do any and all jobs as needed? The department
head should know each co-worker’s job and be able to provide
assistance when it is needed. Yes, you may now be “the boss,”
but ultimately, you are responsible for things happening on
schedule and as promised. Sometimes this means that you have
to pitch in and do the work, not just supervise it.
Can I leave my past successes
behind me? The no. 1 mistake people make when they get
promoted is trying to keep doing the job they left. You may
have been extremely successful at certain job functions, but
learn to be just as successful at job functions the new
position requires. Stop doing the old job just because it
How do I feel about networking
up (as well as down) in the organization? Many secretaries
grow accustomed to being perceived as helpmates and supporters
of others. They readily volunteer to work with new staff,
mentor interns, and take others under their wings. As part of
management, your attention must be directed to the needs and
dictates of people in positions above yours. That may mean
that rather than feeling secure as the person who has all the
answers, you may be the person who has all the questions. It
is essential that you quickly gain confidence asking for
advice and help from those above you on the organizational
Can you let go of friendships
that may hold you back? For whatever reason, some “friends”
may try to use your new position as a way to test your loyalty
or limits. They may ask for special considerations or try and
compromise your authority. You must be ready to handle these
individuals in ways that lets them know you still value their
friendships, but any decisions you now make, must be in sync
with the position you now hold.
Will you be willing to seek
out new mentors and associates, ones that can help you achieve
in your new position? That doesn’t mean you’ll have to forego
all your old friendships, but it does mean that you will have
to reach out and extend your sphere of influence to new people
at your new level of responsibility.
If you have
answered negatively to any of these questions, it could be a
warning sign that you are not ready for the career move to
supervisor. And now’s the time to discover it…before you make
the final move.
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2004, International Association of Administrative Professionals.