New supervisors: promoted from within
Child Care agencies sometimes promote their best child care staff to a supervisor’s job for lots of good reasons. They know the kids, the agency, the local community and the staff – all of which, of course, have history, strengths — and foibles. These factors can enable the newly-promoted supervisor to become a good supervisor, and within a relatively brief learning period.
But there is a down side – tensions caused by the new supervisors former co-workers on one hand and new colleagues on the other hand. The former co-workers tease them and test them and make it hard for them to just ‘hang out’. This new behavior is rarely planned or intended; it sort of happens – sometimes because of resentment that they were not selected, or simply because things are different. And so it becomes more and more difficult for new supervisors to just ‘drop by’ the staff coffee room as they used to.
Even socializing outside of the agency in the local bar happens less frequently and over time the new supervisor finds he or she is turning to new colleagues more and more for socializing, quickie conferences and informal meetings.
But in this group, too, there is a certain coolness that persists for a time until the new supervisors learn their jobs, spend more time with other supervisors and begin to show real identification with management.
As time goes by new supervisors learn their jobs, feel more accepted by their new coworkers and less time with their old buddies. This leads to a substantial change in relationships – your old friends begin to see you in a different way – less as an old friend and more as part of management. You in turn also change your view of them when they seem to not understand management’s viewpoint. You begin to use the ‘them’ pronoun when you talk about your former coworkers where you used to say ‘we’!
Although it is difficult to go back and forth between these two worlds, promoting staff from within to supervisory positions can have a real and perhaps unexpected payoff if it is handled well. The new supervisor who obviously has recent experience with service delivery problems can bring to top management perspectives of the service delivery staff which sometimes differ significantly from supervisors’ perspectives and may not have been heard. If this understanding can be communicated effectively to top management, the agency can be helped to operate more effectively and humanely because of the ‘insights’ provided by the newly-promoted supervisor.
New supervisors may gradually lose friendships when promoted to higher ranks but they can also gain new friendships among the new peers in the managerial ranks. Newly-promoted people can thus be helpful both to old friends and to the organization as a whole by bridging experience and insights between organizational levels.