Although it was quite a few years ago, I remember vividly being hired into my first supervisory role. I was fresh out of university and was put in charge of the field crew at a Department of Fisheries shellfish farm where I had been a summer student for the previous two summers. I went from being ‘one of the guys’ to being ‘the boss.’ I really wasn’t prepared!

When I arrived back at the farm I was met with an enthusiasm much the same as the previous two years returning from school because no one had been told I was going to be the supervisor. Turns out the farm manager had decided my first role as supervisor would be to let the crew know I was going to be their new boss. Was I nervous? Yes! I was 20 years younger than the youngest crew member and had learned everything about the job from the people now standing in front of me on the wharf.

I got through it and stayed there for four more years. It was actually one of the most satisfying jobs I have had.

Looking back, what I learned from being thrown into supervision came down to three words that start with C. And they can help anyone improve their leadership skills to become a more successful supervisor.


Being a great leader is all about communication. Let people know what you expect of them and what they can expect of you. Then, follow through.


Your primary role as a supervisor is to develop the employees on your team and help them achieve their potential. This quote from Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, says it all: “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

Conflict Resolution

Being a supervisor means juggling multiple priorities, conflicting needs, and sometimes working with staff members who don’t get along. Knowing how to reach consensus, solve disagreements, and work through conflict are essential skills for success.

To this day I still live by these three Cs — and following them can help you hone your leadership skills too.

Kevin Henderson is content creation manager at Velsoft Training Materials.