I have just been assigned to a new role in my company. It is not entirely different than my previous role, just that I have to manage people now and take more responsibility in projects.

Basically, I am the one now who gives the steps/directions to my juniors on how to deal with the project.

The problem is in my previous role, I didn't have to depend on anyone else than much, other than my manager/supervisor for steps of what is required (I would occasionally ask one or a few times to a coworker if I get stuck). I kind of did the technical programming things on my own.

In my first project as supervisor, I feel like I totally screwed up my job. I freaked out, ended up doing most of the things myself at first, because I felt like I could do it faster and on time, whereas if I let go of the technical part of the job and handed it to my junior, I felt like he would struggle and the deadline will be missed (FYI, he just graduated, and with very little experience, and the project was a deal-maker kind of thing). The end result was that my previous supervisor had to step in and take charge; me and my junior ended up doing the work together. The project was still missed, but not as far behind as I thought it would be. I don't know how he does it so effortlessly, he doesn't seem to be bothered at all, it was like he knew what was going to happen. He is in his early thirties, whilst I am in my mid twenties.

How can I with no talent to lead, learn to lead/manage people, without making (or at the very least minimizing) mistakes? Because to me, the best teacher is experience, but I don't think I can risk to test-pilot myself on my new career just to learn it, without delivering good results. I have read some neat biographies about inspiring leaders, but it doesn't say much about how they got to be where they were/are.

  • I'm not surprised your supervisor had it easier - he had twice the amount of manpower you did. The fact that the project still failed suggests that you were given an impossible task.
    – Erik
    Sep 5, 2018 at 8:03

2 Answers 2


the best teacher is experience

You have answered your own question here.

However to learn/avoid mistakes (impossible to completely avoid) is to just be confident, have faith and know what your juniors are capable of. If they can complete certain tasks, then make sure to be giving them those tasks then you can focus on what you do. And if they finish you could let them work with you to learn and speed up your process as well.

You have to trust your juniors in their abilities, as whoever hired them ... did for a reason, just like you and everyone else who works with you. On top of this instead of reading about it, ask your supervisor on how they do it, maybe they can give insight on what you need and it'll be more company specific.

You clearly knew that the project was important, let the team know how you feel and why you worry.

Guys this is a deal breaker, lets get the work done

Each project you do, keep a log of things that go wrong, and analyse them to see what you could've done and what you're going to do next time to ensure the basic mistakes don't occur.

Your manager will know that it is something that is new to you, and clearly believes you have what it takes otherwise you wouldn't have been given the responsibility. Believe in yourself and your juniors.


Experience is the best teacher, but would it hurt to ask your supervisor for some advice? Take the experience you had with the last project and sit down with him about it. Ask him what he thought went wrong, what could have been done better and how he went about trying to get things on track when he took over.

You're not trying to emulate exactly how he does things, but rather, take some points to consider into your next project in a supervisor role. You're trying to avoid making mistakes for next time, and it starts with figuring out what the do's and dont's are.

Also, try getting to know your junior more. Figure out their technical capabilities so you can get an idea what kind of tasks you can confidently assign to them, but also learn to trust them to develop should you need to assign them more difficult tasks. They, too, learn from experience just as you do.

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