Tips for first time managers

Whether you’ve just received a promotion, or secured a new job in which you’ll inherit a team, even if that’s only one person, managing people for the first time can be both exciting and daunting.

Some of us really enjoy managing people and it comes naturally, while others find it more difficult, particularly if they are introverted and reserved. Personally, it was one of the favourite parts of my roles, and I always looked forward to one to ones and appraisals.  However, some of my colleagues used to find any excuse to cancel, or put these meetings off for as long as possible!

Here are some common fears amongst first time managers:

-        Loss of control.  Managers are now responsible for other people delivering work, in addition to themselves. How can they determine what’s the best approach to ensure the team collectively meets its targets and the work gets done?

-        Being unpopular.  This is common in promotions where the manager may have previously been a peer and the team were quite close knit. They worry that their colleagues will no longer like them if they have to make unfavourable decisions.

-        Panic. New managers may be scared of showing their inexperience and think they aren’t up to the role.

-        Dealing with conflict.  Not knowing how to effectively manage different personalities, especially those with strong opinions.


If you recognise some of these fears, then these five tips can help boost your confidence. Remember, you got the job for a very good reason!


1.     Start as you mean to go on.  Build professional relationships and be open and honest.  Get the team together and ask for their help and to give you feedback.  It’s okay to say you’d like their help and input on how the team should best work together.

2.     Find out more about your team members on a personal level.  That doesn’t mean finding out their life history, just sufficient details to show and maintain interest.  Remember to use the information you’ve learnt in conversations to demonstrate that you’ve listened because people love to feel valued and that their voices have been heard. You may also consider using DISC personality profiling to help you understand how your team are likely to behave in situations and how they like to be communicated to. These insights can really help you build a strong relationship from the start.

3.     Set up regular one to ones with your team members to review progress, understand challenges and talk to them about how they are doing. These meetings should give you reassurance that work is being done without you having to check in with them every 5 minutes, and can provide useful early warning signs to any problems. Ensure you set your team members clear goals, define their responsibilities and explain how they will be measured.

4.     Look for a mentor.  Who else in the company has been in your shoes?  How did they cope? You can learn from their experiences and what worked for them. Also think about previous managers that you have had. What did they do well that you could adapt and learn from?

5.     Create a personal development plan that includes both short term and long term objectives with your own line manager. Your objectives should help you develop your people management skills and grow into the role.


Once you are a few months in and feeling more confident and experienced, consider using the services of a coach to continue both your personal development and that of your team, ensuring you are communicating and working together as effectively as possible. Click to find out more about workplace coaching or DISC personality profiling. 

Maggie NewtonComment