Q: My boss just made me the new supervisor and I’m having trouble getting people to respect my new role. They are good people, but the boss said he needed me to provide leadership and direction — and then just turned me loose with the same people that I’ve een working with for several years. How can I get them to "buy into" what I feel needs to be done?

A: Being the new supervisor can be difficult and is even more difficult when you are put in charge of the people who were recent coworkers. You and your boss need  to work together to establish you as the new leader.

Your boss needs to make it clear to all the employees that you are in a new position and what that means to each of them. A meeting with you and your staff is a good starting point. Your boss should introduce you as the new supervisor and outline the specific role you will have, his expectations for everyone, the specific goals that he wants accomplished and any other changes in duties and roles. He  also should let the staff know that he has confidence in you and everyone involved.

For your part, you need to do some subtle things to show that you are the leader. Start by having regular meetings for which you set the agenda and which you lead (ask for input from the staff). Other steps include being the person who handles discipline and does performance evaluations with each employee; make sure that you are actively engaged in problem solving and be the “go-to” person for the employees in your charge. If some individuals still lack the appropriate level of respect for your new position, your boss should sit in on your meetings, evaluations and disciplinary actions but say very little and defer questions and the leadership to you. This makes it clear to others that even your boss defers to you in these situations and is comfortable with your leadership.

Additionally, be sure that you are actively engaged with the employees and their daily jobs, that you do not spend “too much time in the office” and never shy away from hard or undesirable tasks that need to be addressed.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.