9 Things First-Time Managers Should Know

So, you’re promoted as a manager. Congratulations!

If you’re a first-time manager, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled and nervous at the same time. I knew it from some of my friends who experienced it and shared their experiences online.

The moment the good news is publicly announced, it’s normal to feel awkward when meeting subordinates who used to be on the same level as you. You may even feel nervous because you used to be close with them, wondering if things should stay the same as before — now you’ve become their manager.

But, don’t worry! In this article, I will share nine tips for first-time managers.

1. Be honest with your team that some things will change

The first thing you should do after being promoted is to have a meeting with your team. Be honest with them about the changes that would come. Calm down, stay relaxed and make the meeting casual instead of formal.

Everyone knows that you’re their manager now, and they may have the same questions as you. However, you should be the one who addresses it first and make it clear for everyone.

Some of the things that you may want to talk about are:

  • You may not be able to have lunch together as often as before
  • They can always come to you to share stuff and discuss things like usual
  • You’re still their friend, but you have a new responsibility. Thus, you will treat everyone fairly and will let them know the areas they need to improve (if any)
  • As their manager, you are there to help and set them up for success

2. Learn everything you can

One of the key tips for new managers is to learn everything you can. Seek out the management tools, training, and resources your organisation provides.

Get familiar with and memorise (if possible) the company manuals and HR policies. Take formal leadership training and read books about leadership to learn the essence of being a great leader.

3. Get to know each of your team members personally

Another advice for first-time managers is to have a one-to-one meeting with each team member. This approach is essential to understand their role and how they feel. For example, you can ask what they like about their job, challenges, desired career path, and suggestions or ideas to improve the company.

Practice active listening — focus and listen to your team members when they’re talking, without interrupting. The more you listen, the better you understand your subordinates. Active listening shows that you care about them and help build trust.

4. Delegate the tasks

Now that you know everyone’s preferences and fortes, it’ll be easier for you to delegate the tasks. You’re no longer an executive who has to do everything by yourself. As a first-time manager, it’s essential to realise that you have a team to support you.

If you’re an expert at some things, teach them to use the tools or complete the task efficiently — don’t withhold information or skills. Doing this will save time in the future and prove that you trust your team to get the job done. It has a positive impact on the morale of employees!

5. Your job is to help your team succeed

A change of mindset is one of the crucial tips for new managers. Before you were promoted, all you had to do was complete the tasks and perform well. Everything that you did was for you. But now, you should shift your focus from yourself to your team.

Your job is to help each of your team members perform well, hit their KPI, and accomplish the team’s goal. The credit should go to the team, not you. Remember, if your team fails, you fail.

6. Ask for their opinion

You may be the new manager, but it doesn’t mean you should play the hero. You don’t have to burden yourself trying to be the hero whenever an issue arises. Adam Zbar, the CEO of Sun Basket, shared with The Awesome Office Show why managers shouldn’t play heroes.

Adam used to be the one who provided solutions whenever his team faced problems. However, instead of being appreciative, his team wasn’t impressed. The next time an issue arose, he started to ask questions that led to their own solution.

The atmosphere immediately changed. Adam’s team became more enthusiastic because the idea came from them, not the boss. Therefore, it’s best for first-time managers to set up a meeting and ask employees’ opinions on solving the issue instead of directly telling the team what to do.

7. Be a role model

Another great advice for first-time managers is to ditch your bad habits such as showing up late at work, missing deadlines, complaining about the management, and so on. Now that you’re a manager, not only your subordinates will look at you as a role model but also people from other departments. Therefore, you should always give your best at work.

8. Be empathetic

Great leaders are empathetic. They listen to people’s concerns and interests and act accordingly. They treat others as humans, not tools to achieve targets.

There will be times when you should make a decision that’s not aligned with the company’s policy — because you’re a human. For example, one of your subordinates suddenly receives a call that his wife will give birth prematurely. You let him off work ASAP instead of asking him to apply for leave first.

Another example is when they fail to achieve their KPI. Instead of attacking them, set up an individual meeting with them and ask why they failed, how you can help them, provide solutions, and give them a reasonable amount of time to improve their performance.

9. Ask for feedback

As a first-time manager, you may have some blind spots. Ask your team members to give you feedback on what you should stop doing, start doing, and what you should do in the future. Asking for feedback shows that you’re humble and willing to learn to improve yourself.

All in all

These are the tips for first-time managers that I believe would be helpful. There are still many things that you can learn as a new manager, so remember to read more books and listen to podcasts about being a great leader. Once again, congratulations on getting the promotion!

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