Ask HR Series – Preparing to Promote an Employee to Supervisor

Ask HR Series – Preparing to Promote an Employee to Supervisor

Xenium’s Senior HR Business Partners know a lot about human resources, and we want to share their knowledge and insight with you! Each week, we publish a question from you, our readers, and our experienced HR leaders provide thoughtful, helpful advice addressing your HR dilemmas. Submit questions by emailing them to julie.matthiessen@xeniumhr.com or by clicking on the chat icon at the bottom of this page. We are excited to partner with you…one HR question at a time!


This week’s featured HR expert is Nicole Jones.


I want to promote one of my best employees to a supervisor position. What are some things I should think about to prepare for this promotion?

That’s a good question, and it’s one that many employers forget to consider. One of the biggest risks you encounter when promoting a strong individual contributor into a supervisory role is that you know they’re great at doing the tasks, but you might not know if they have the skills and the competencies to get those same tasks done through others. In this situation, the single most important thing I would recommend an employer to think about is: “Does this person have the skills and the competencies—or the ability to be trained—to manage vision and purpose through others and to get their work done through other people?”

Unless this person already has some supervisory duties, their role is going to shift considerably with this promotion. Think about the skills they’ll need to be successful, whether or not they’ve supervised other employees before, and get them the training they need before they step into their new role. This step is often overlooked.

I recommend looking into Xenium’s core trainings, which are great for new, as well as existing supervisors and managers. HR Basics–Tips & Traps for Supervisors, Performance Planning & Management, and my favorite training, Coaching & Constructive Feedback, are a few I would recommend for new supervisors. The latter helps people have some of those difficult but necessary conversations, which can be daunting for new managers. Also, spend some time teaching your supervisors how to recognize and motivate others, and make sure they understand that their employees will be motivated by different factors.

Strategic Hiring is one of our most popular trainings these days, especially in an environment where unemployment is low and employers are struggling to find good talent. This helps supervisors get to know basics of the interview process: what to ask, what not to ask, how to close the deal with a candidate, etc. And, of course, there is Recognizing & Preventing Harassment, which is a really important topic for supervisors to understand so they know what their role is as someone representing the organization. Regardless of how much training a supervisor has, Xenium’s trainings are a great way to give some of that in-person, classroom-style training to your supervisors.

As you transition, don’t forget that there could be a new gap in what previously was this person’s work. Hopefully, you can replace them quickly with another great employee who keeps up the stellar work. But that potential gap is something to consider.

Most importantly, talk with the employee about this job change. Just because they’re great at their job doesn’t mean they have the ability—or the desire—to manage others. In talking with them about it, you can better identify how they would perform in such a role.

Julie Matthiessen

As Sales & Marketing Coordinator, Julie supports and collaborates with the Marketing Director and VP of Sales & Marketing to develop content and execute marketing strategies, as well as provide customer service and support to potential clients. She also contributes internally at Xenium as a member of the innovative culture development group XCITE.