Five Questions With Warren Wandling About Essential Skills for First Time Supervisors

Warren Wandling

A promotion to first time supervisor or manager demonstrates professional growth into a new role, but it does not necessarily mean automatic mastery of essential leadership skills. Knowing how to embrace a leadership mindset, overcome imposter syndrome, and communicate with difficult team members are important skills to apply. Below, instructor Warren Wandling discusses some supervisory skills taught in his upcoming certificate program, Essential Skills for First Time Supervisors.

“I love training and coaching leaders. It’s my passion to equip emerging leaders to make an impact in their lives and lives of the teams they serve,” Wandling says. “I am excited about this course because it is packed with hands on, practical experience to deal with current leadership challenges.”

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Wandling teaches Essential Skills for First Time Supervisors. Registration is open now. This certificate program runs on four consecutive Wednesdays: 9/28, 10/5, 10/12, and 10/19, from 2:00pm – 4:00pm. Participants must attend all four sessions to complete the certificate. Sessions will be held live-online via Zoom.

What is imposter syndrome? How does that factor into a leadership mindset?

Imposter syndrome is common at all levels of leadership, when a supervisor doubts their ability and feels like a fake in their new position. A first time supervisor might be having thoughts like, “What I am doing in this meeting, I don’t belong.”

As the supervisor starts to adopt a new leadership mindset, it will come in conflict with the self-doubt as they experience imposter syndrome. Maybe they think they don’t deserve to be in this position.

This will cause the supervisor not to lead with confidence, they might hold back on becoming the best version of themselves. People follow leaders who are confident!

What skills do new managers and supervisors need to perform well?

Supervisory skills that can be learned with practice include increasing self-confidence, knowing how to building trust within the team, communicating with an assertive style, problem solving, delegating for success and dealing with difficult employees.

The first step, which might be the hardest, is developing the discipline to learn new skills. Practical application is the best way to develop these new skills. The new supervisor will learn them by attending the seminar and creating their individualized action plan.

Should a manager consider different generational needs, learning styles, and personalities when determining what, how, and when to communicate to employees?

Yes, to be able to communicate and connect with a team member, it’s vital that the supervisor understands the way the employee likes to communicate. Generational needs, learning styles, and personalities all play apart. New or experienced supervisors have felt misunderstood, while team members have also felt misunderstood. The secret is to be able to identify the team member’s communication style and adjust to meet their style.

In your program, do you address how supervisors can interact with challenging team members to minimize or avoid conflict?

Knowing strategies to deal with conflict will provide the new supervisor confidence. The one thing you don’t want to do, as a supervisor, is to ignore conflict and hope it will go away. It can be common for a first time supervisor to ignore the conflict because they might not know what to do.

That’s why I provide proven strategies to interact with a challenging team member. The new supervisor is equipped to be successful in a difficult situation. The key for a new supervisor is knowing what strategies to use and when to use it. I liken it to football. One of things I like about football is great head coaches are great leaders, they know their players, they anticipate problems, and adjust during the game to increase the opportunity to win.

Feedback frequency and needs vary among people from different generations, levels of experience, and personality. What’s the importance of learning how to coach and provide feedback in a productive manner?  

The level and frequency of feedback helps to build trust with your team. Providing feedback is just as important. However, the manner that feedback is communicated is even more important. What I mean by that is, consider communication style.

There are three types of communication style, passive, aggressive and assertive. Out of the three styles, assertive is the most clear communication. This type of communication will allow the supervisor to make the greatest impact within the team. It’s important for a supervisor to keep in mind the famous quote from Steven Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.” A supervisor should keep in mind that how they communicate their message will either have a positive or negative impact on the team.

Over the last twenty years coaching has become an important skill for supervisors and leaders to learn. Coaching is more about being curious and asking what and how questions vs telling and instructing. A supervisor that has good coaching skills has demonstrated strong active listening skills. That’s why I train supervisors and leaders to listen to listen not to respond.

first time supervisor

“Since we live in ever changing world, new and experienced supervisors and leaders need to have a personal development plan to grow their leadership skills,” Wandling says. “As leaders we need to anticipate the next disruption and how to lead through it.  It’s better to develop leadership skills now, so you can be ready with whatever challenges might come your way.”