Tips for a First Time Manager
Heidi Zwart
first time manager

Saying yes to a management position is both exciting and scary. Accepting a promotion is an honor but carries with it a burden of new responsibilities. It can feel overwhelming and you may not know where to start. If this describes you, here are some helpful tips for a first time manager to get off on the right foot. 

Ask questions

A first time manager has a lot to learn. Asking good questions will fill in knowledge gaps quickly. While it can be tempting to hold back for fear of revealing what you don’t know, ask questions freely. Ask everything from the very basic to the most complex questions. No question is off-limits for a first time manager. The more you ask the more you’ll learn and the more successful you’ll be in your new role. 

Schedule meetings

One of the first things on the agenda of a first time manager is to get to know their team. Even if you’re still working with the same people, your new role means establishing new guidelines and expectations around your working relationship. Schedule one-on-ones and team meetings to connect individually and as a group. Request meetings with other leaders and teams in your organization as well to establish strong working relationships. 

Get to know strengths (and weaknesses)

Knowing the strengths of your team will help you assign the right work to the right team member in the right way. Assessments like CliftonStrengths and others will give you insight into what your team members do best. As a first time manager, you will know how to pair your team members with one another to bridge the gap in some of their weaker areas, and yours. 67% of employees who strongly agree that their manager focuses on their strengths are engaged at work, which leads to better performance and retention. 

Ask for feedback

Feedback provides a glimpse into what you’re doing well or where you might need to make adjustments. With feedback, you experience what it’s like to be on the other side of you. Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, your receptivity demonstrates a growth mindset, which is equally important as a first time manager. Look for opportunities to get feedback from others and give strengths-based feedback, freely too. 

Look for things to celebrate

A first time manager may have big goals and high expectations for their team. Look for quick wins to lead with more confidence. Acknowledging areas of improvement or small victories also boosts your self-esteem and helps your team rally around hitting goals and recognizing accomplishments. Notice the little things and celebrate often. Empower your team to do their best work and celebrate when it happens.  

Adopt a coach mindset

The best managers are coaches. They do all of the things previously mentioned, most importantly learning their team member’s strengths, listening to their personal and professional goals, and empowering them to do their best work. When employees feel understood, heard, and supported, organizations see improvement in engagement, performance, and wellbeing. Managers are often the difference between an employee staying with or leaving an organization (no pressure!), so being a coach matters.

If you’re a first time manager, aim to be the kind of manager you’d like to work for. With this lens and these tips, you will be better equipped to lead your team well.

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