Student Affairs

Supervising Former Peers in Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities

Duration: 1 hour
Facilitator: Dr. Aaron Hughey
Price: $50.00

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You have recently been promoted to head of a student affairs department in which you have been a staff member for the last five years.  In your previous role, you have always had good ideas, worked well with your co-workers and produced quality work.  However, 6 months after moving into your new role, you have found it difficult to supervise your former colleagues.  Recently, you have noticed that three of your staff are taking every chance to remind you of your previous position and the former relationship you had with them.  You have noticed that these same individuals “talk at" you often, especially when you do not agree to their requests.  Since assuming your new role, some of your former colleagues balk when you assign a task that they do not want to do; they also interrupt you during important meetings. You have also noticed that a couple of members of your department engage in behaviors that are inappropriate for the office environment such as lengthy personal telephone calls, use of Facebook and Instant messaging, visiting dating, shopping, and other personal websites, and office gossiping.

Student affairs professionals experience sometimes these and similar challenges when transitioning to a supervisory role. The reality is that higher education administration can be very challenging, especially since many of those who are promoted into leadership roles often have no formal training in basic supervisory concepts and applications. When you are promoted into a position that requires you to provide leadership for individuals who used to be colleagues and co-workers, the situation requires you to adopt a new philosophy, a new attitude, and new leadership strategies. The rules have changed and in order to be successful in your new role, you must understand what the new rules are and how to use them to your advantage.

Included in the discussion will be actual case studies involving supervisors who were promoted and had to manage their former colleagues and co-workers, as well as several discussion questions and a brief quiz developed to give participants feedback on their potential to effectively supervise former peers.


  • The characteristics of effective supervision in a higher education environment
  • The dynamics of collegial (co-worker) interaction
  • The dynamics of supervisory (supervisor-to-faculty/staff member interaction)
  • Considerations and concerns unique to supervising former peers
  • Evidence-based best practices for supervising former peers
  • How to effectively resolve common problems that arise when supervising former peers 
  • How to turn challenges into opportunities when supervising former peers
  • The importance of developing a game-plan for reaching your full potential as a supervisor

Learning Outcomes:

Upon completion of the webinar, participants will be able to demonstrate:

  • The appropriate way to treat former colleagues/co-workers.
  • How to stay friendly while recognizing that your relationship has changed.
  • How to hold your former peers accountable while still treating them with warmth and respect.
  • How to separate your personal relationships from your professional one.
  • How to avoid favoritism and no cronyism 
  • How to avoid being intimidated and manipulated by your former colleagues/co-workers

Who Should Attend:

This webinar would be beneficial to anyone in student affairs (division/department/unit) who had been promoted into a position that involves supervising former peers.


Dr. Aaron W HugheyDr. Aaron W Hughey is a professor and program coordinator in the Department of Counseling and Student Affairs at Western Kentucky University. He supervises the master’s degree program in student affairs in higher education as well as graduate certificate programs in international student services and career services. He was head of the department for five years before returning to the faculty in 2008. Before joining the faculty in 1991, he was the associate director of university housing; he also served as interim director of WKU’s Knicely Institute for Economic Development where he coordinated outreach (training and development) services to business and industry.  He has degrees from the University of Tennessee at Martin, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Western Kentucky University, and Northern Illinois University. He has authored (or co-authored) over 60 refereed publications on subjects including higher education administration, student affairs, counseling and testing, diversity, leadership, teams, and management. He consults extensively with regional companies and schools and provides training sessions and programs on a variety of topics. More importantly, he has been in the situations where he has had to supervise former peers several times during his career.

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