Supervising An Employee Who Applied For Your Current Position (Keys To Success)

    December 2, 2003

A limited number of supervisory positions are available in most organizations. Employees may informally prepare themselves to become a supervisor. The position they have been preparing for might be revamped and the requirements could change. These types of decisions are normally shared with members of the management team. Because a job candidate is not always aware of management decisions, they can be utilizing a large number of assumptions to assist them prepare for a higher paying job. These factors can add to the feelings of disappoint, if a long time employee does not receive a promotion.

Upper management may see the pending retirement of a supervisor as a chance to make major changes. An outside job candidate may be considered, who might bring new ideas to the organization. In many situations, interview committees are considering the below question:

– Do we select a job candidate with many years of experience in our company or do we consider an outside candidate, with the “skill set” needed to move us to the next level?

Depending on the industry you work in, other companies who hire people with your educational and work background may be in another state. Relocation may or may not be something you can or even what to consider. This and numerous other factors can make the dynamics involved in starting a new supervisory position very interesting. How do you supervise an employee who applied for your position? In my handbook, Eleven Leadership Tips For Supervisors, I deal with this type of situation in Section Five.

If you are supervising a person who applied for your position, I offer the below list of recommendations:

1. Develop a Thick Skin – Do all you can to not take the situation personal. Not being offered a higher paying job can cause a lot of human emotions to be expressed in the workplace. If at all possible, take the high road when interacting with others.

2. Take Your Time Learning the Duties of the New Position – Don’t become defensive and try to make a positive impact too fast. Making a decision just to make a decision is a big management mistake. Relax and let yourself grow into the new position. You don’t have to apply for the job you already have.

3. Invest in Your Own Personal Development – Consider taking colleges courses and/or continuing education classes. Ask yourself the question, “what can I do to better enhance my ability to do a good job?” Doing so will benefit you in your current and future career endeavors. Purchase a few good leadership/management books.

4. Let Your Work Speak for You – Doing a good job speaks volumes. Remember that what you do will have more staying power than what you say.

5. Be Aware of Office Politics – Pay attention to whom the stakeholders are in your organization, but don’t play office politics.

6. Enter Life’s Classroom – Sometimes, an uncomfortable situation can cause you to learn a valuable “life lesson.” For example, your job might help you identify how you handle stress. This can be a positive thing if you learn how to properly deal with the situation. Learn as much as you can from the current challenge.

7. Find Healthy Outlets Outside the Workplace – Exercise and other positive activities than can assist you relax should be considered.

8. If You Make a Mistake, Own Up to it – It is impossible to know everything when you are in a new position. Not owning up to mistakes can cause bigger problems for you in the future.

9. Don’t Attempt to Demand Respect, Remember its Earned – Treating others well and doing a good job, is the best way to earn respect.

10. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously – Remember your job is something you do, not who you are as a person.

11. If at All Possible, Only Leave For a Better Position – Do all you can to use this experience to enhance your job skills and enhance your career. Don’t be quick to leave the job due to a former job candidate being in the same office. Strive to keep moving forward.

With a positive attitude and good resources, you can be successful.

Kenneth McGhee has worked in higher education administration since 1993. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His current position is Senior Assistant Director of Student Financial Aid at Northern Illinois University. Part of his position responsibilities include supervising twelve full time employees, thirty part time employees and overseeing a $65 million dollar annual budget.

Since 1998, he has been a trainer in a state of Illinois program to inform college admissions and high school counselors about the financial aid process. For the 2002- 2003 academic year, he is serving on the Executive Board of the Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators as the Northern Regional Coordinator. The duties include overseeing the association’s Training and Professional Development, Diversity and Professional and Graduate Issues committees.

McGhee’s professional memberships include the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.

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Kenneth McGhee is the author of Eleven Leadership Tips For Supervisors. This book is available online at and You may contact Kenneth at