9 Tips for First-Time Managers

By The Intersect Group

Did you work your way up to management at your current employer? Did you leave one company for a job at another that puts you in a leadership role with direct reports? Either way, congratulations!

And you’re probably a bit nervous, right?

This is normal. You want to feel you can do the job, but over-confidence can do you in.

It’s best to have some humility and an open mind. In fact,  the best leaders always tend to have – and show – humility as they go about their work. (Just a tip for the future.)

And what are you nervous about? Probably many things. But the top nine things you may be worried about are:

  1. Establishing yourself as the leader
  2. Setting clear objectives
  3. Managing without micro-managing
  4. Leading meetings
  5. Encouraging collaboration among team members
  6. Reprimanding team members when warranted without destroying their self-esteem/providing constructive criticism.
  7. Being a good communicator and sharing information
  8. Asking for feedback from your own manager
  9. Keeping emotions in check

We’re going to discuss each of these nine things in upcoming blog posts, starting now with the first topic:


Establishing yourself as the leader

It’s important to understand that it’s really not your job to “boss” people around. Nope. Your main job is to encourage and motivate your team members to do the best they can and remove roadblocks to success. You also guide them in becoming experts in their roles so that they help the business grow. This may lead them to actually move into leadership positions themselves (maybe even someday become your manager).

Another essential part of your job is to make it as easy as possible for your team members to do their job. Focus on management’s day-to-day, giving your direct reports the space to focus on what they do best: their jobs.

In other words: make sure they have the tools and freedom (with guidance) to do what needs to be done.

And then get out of their way.


Keep an eye on the nitty-gritty

You are responsible for allocating the resources (people, time, the budget). It’s your job to make sure your team members have the tools they need to be successful. To answer questions as they come up (so you’ll need to be sure you understand your manager’s expectations for your team). To budget time and money in the areas that will provide the best long-term value (new desktop computers or new desks, for example) and help your department reach its goals. 

You set up micro-teams as needed within the people you manage. You plan deadlines (and make sure members of your team are meeting them).

You help your team members stay focused, being available for questions and concerns. You lend an ear to department members challenges and concerns, especially when it pertains to their co-workers and helping colleagues work well together.

It’s up to you to ensure that your team members have what they need to be successful, while at the same time, encouraging them to do their best work. After all, when they are successful, you are successful.

You also – and you knew this was coming – must sometimes deliver constructive criticism to your team members. You sometimes even have to give a form of professional tough love.

These “hard parts” of the job (managing behaviors) are never fun. Still, they’re necessary and, when you do both the hard and the fun things well (such as guiding your team members to become the best they can be), you’ll truly start establishing yourself as a leader.


Part 2 in our series of advice for first-time managers coming soon: setting clear objectives

Many of our candidates have started positions as new managers and we thought we’d provide them with a series of blog posts full of advice to help them succeed in their new roles.

Next up will be tips and strategies for setting clear objectives for your new team.

In the meantime, if you would like to chat about talent resource needs for your new team, contact us anytime.