I’m a first time manager, what do I need to do?

Firstly, congratulations on the new role! Being a manager is a key role in any business and you have an exciting chapter ahead of you. That’s not to say that this next step can come with a range of emotions – excitement with the new responsibility and a new challenge of managing a team, although on the other side it can come with self-doubt and the feeling of imposter syndrome creeping in. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, it’s completely normal to have mixed emotions.

 

I’m sure you can think back to remember a time where you worked with your worst manager. What were the traits and qualities of that person? My own example of this was someone who didn’t take the time to help me develop, they took credit for work they didn’t do and just generally wasn’t a nice person to work with. Remember those qualities of that person and how it made you feel. Perhaps you were frustrated or you started to doubt your own abilities. This just shows how much of an impact a manager can have on someone, so remember to check in on how you act as a manager.

 

Now, on the flip side of that, let’s go back to think about the best manager you had, maybe it’s someone you’re lucky enough to be currently working with. I want you to ask yourself what made them such a great manager? I’m going to imagine some of the reasons will be that they listened to you, they trusted you, they had integrity and communicated well, to name just a few things. How did this person make you feel? Empowered? Trusted? Confident? All those great feelings! Now, what things do you want to emulate and bring into your own manager style? 

 

It’s important as a first time manager (and an experienced manager!) to look after yourself as well as your team. You can do this by setting boundaries and understanding your own work capacity whilst seeking help from your own manager, communicating clearly and asking for help when you need it. 

 

When you’re first starting out, being a manager can seem complex. However, to help with this next chapter of your career…

Here are my top 10 tips to focus on when first managing a team.

1. Build relationships

Take the time to build relationships with your team members. Get to know them as individuals, understand what motivates them and what their goals are both personally and professionally. Make sure they know you’re invested in their success, and that you’re there to support them. Make time for regular one-to-one meetings to talk about goals rather than to go through their to-do list, this helps engage your team and helps to build an understanding of the bigger picture.

2. Set clear expectations

Understand what’s expected of you and clearly communicate your expectations and vision for your team. Be specific about what you want them to achieve, and make sure they understand what success looks like. This will help them stay focused and aligned with your goals. Setting SMART (smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and timebound) objectives can help with this, with regular check-ins on progress. 

3. Delegate

As a manager, (and in general!) you can’t do everything yourself. Delegation is a key part of being an effective manager but something that many people can struggle with, especially when starting out as a manager. To help with this, start by identifying the strengths and development areas of each team member, and delegate tasks accordingly based on how you can utilise your team members’ skills whilst also giving them opportunity to develop with new tasks. This will help you make the most of your team’s skills and capabilities.

4. Communicate effectively

Communication is key to any successful team. Make sure you communicate regularly with your team members, and be transparent about your expectations, goals, and challenges. Encourage your team members to share their thoughts and ideas with you as well.

5. Learn from mistakes

Let’s face it, you will make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself when this happens. Instead, take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, and use them to improve your skills as a manager. There are plenty of books and articles that can help you as a first time manager – I personally found ‘The Making of A Manager’ by Julie Zhou extremely helpful when I first managed a team.

6. Continuously improve

Management is a skill that can always be improved, especially when it comes to managing people. People are complex, we’re all human and everyone is different, with different needs and support areas. Look for opportunities to learn about how to manage different people and grow your skills as a manager. Seek feedback from your team members, peers, and superiors, and use it to identify areas where you can grow. Curiosity is key in learning and developing your skills.

7. Manage your time effectively

As a manager, your time is precious, and there will always be more work to do than time available. Prioritise your work, and make sure to allocate your time effectively. Learn to delegate tasks to your team members, and focus on the most critical tasks that have the most significant impact on your team’s success.

8. Understand your own management style:

Everyone has their own unique way of managing as we are all different with different strengths, communication styles and blind spots. Your management style will develop over time as you gain more experience but it’s useful to understand your own personality style and those in your team too, as you will need to tailor your approach depending on who you are working with.

9. Check in on your team’s wellbeing

As a manager, you play an integral part in your team members’ experience at work. We know that work is a huge part of our life, and there will be multiple challenges along the way. Make time to connect with your team and understand their own individual wellbeing needs. Understand where to access further support should you need it.

10. Be patient

Learning new skills takes time, and that includes how to become a great manager. It’s okay that you don’t have all the answers right away and remember it’s better to go away and find out rather than make something up. Be patient, keep learning and keep working to improve your skills over time.

These are just a few things that you can do to help get yourself set up for success as a first time manager, but remember that management requires multiple skills and behaviours – so one size doesn’t fit all. 

 

Being a first time manager can be tough – and you can’t do it all yourself. I’ve worked with countless first time managers, and seasoned pros to help them get the best out of their team and I can help you get there too. Book in a free 20-minute discovery call to talk about where you are in your management journey and where I can help you to succeed. 

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