Page Updated on June 17, 2022

Just like with any work role, being a new first-time manager can be challenging and difficult at first. You might, for example, be managing your work colleagues, people with more experience than you in the specific job roles, and you might lack some experience in managing people. Do not worry though. With time comes experience and you can go from first-time manager to being a great leader. These 10 tips below might also help you!

10 tips for fist time managers

1. Treat All Employees Equally and Fairly

As a first time manager, you will either be:

  • Someone who has been promoted within a company (i.e. you have risen through the ranks)
  • Moving to a new job and into a company where you are new to their work culture and employees

If you are new to the company, then treating all employees that you will manage equally, is not going to be such a problem, because you will not be familiar with any of the staff.

If promoted from within the ranks, then it does get more difficult as you try and balance existing friendships with colleagues who you will now manage. Avoiding showing favoritism to some employees becomes a challenge!

It is essential to start from the very beginning as a manager to treat every employee you manage equally!

Recommendation

One way to develop a working relationship with colleagues who you do not already know so well is to use one-to-one meetings to get to know each employee better.

In addition to assessing their own personal career development goals, find out about their hobbies and interests, and skills set.

Try and find something that you have in common with colleagues you still need to build a rapport with so that you can relate to each employee on some level.

2. Be Open to Making Mistakes and Learning

Frustrated new first time manager

As a first-time manager, you just have to accept that you will make some mistakes.

Do NOT beat yourself up if you make a mistake and do not be afraid to try new things in your management style.

As a first-time manager, you are bound to make mistakes and the key is to make sure that these mistakes at least make you a better manager and leader in the long term.

Your staff will often see you as a stronger leader if you are honest and fair. So do not be afraid to own up to mistakes you make as a new manager but learn from them.

3. Build an Inclusive Work Enviroment for Your Team

Inclusive Leadership is something I have written about in other posts and it is extremely important as a manager.

You need to make an effort to make everyone in your team feel included. Each and every employee should have an equal opportunity. They should not experience any type of disadvantage.

Every employee should feel that they:

  • feel confident to speak openly and that they have a voice
  • have the same access to information and help as colleagues in the same role
  • have the same opportunities as others (regardless say of age, culture, disability and other causes of workplace discrimination)

Recommendation

As a new manager, unless you have previously had training in Inclusive Leadership and Management, I would recommend going on a course of this type.

Alternatively, if there is training that your Human Resources Department offers in this topic area, get them to sign you up for the course.

Inclusive Management for first time managers materials

4. Learn How to Be a Good Listener

Being a great listener is an absolutely vital skill that you really need to master if you want to be a great manager.

Whilst it might seem obvious that we must listen, many managers are poor listeners and tend to enjoy talking, more than they should.

Developing strong listening skills is something you can fairly easily master once you have an understanding of some of the reasons why we often fail to listen enough and once you learn some of the main techniques used in active listening.

By learning to be an effective listener you will:

  • come across as being more empathetic by taking the time to hear what others wish to say, enabling you a better chance to build rapport with your team
  • more easily learn about any issues that your employees have and that exist in the team
  • be seen as a better leader

5. Have a Management Mentor

Just like any other employee, having a mentor who understands the exact situations, issues, and experiences you will come across and need to deal with, can be absolutely invaluable.

Reaching out to other managers is one of the best resources you will have as a new manager.

If there are management meetings that other managers attend, do not be afraid to tap into their knowledge and benefit from their experience.

The skill, of course, is to maintain trust in your own team by keeping a sense of confidentiality in terms of what you mention to other managers, whilst learning from your peers (more experienced managers).

There is nothing to stop you from picking the brains of other managers.

Ideally, if possible, having one specific manager (it might be your own boss, i.e. higher manager) to turn to can be a great option.

As a first-time manager you, just like all employees, are on a learning curve and you need to be open to learning from others.

6. Properly Utilize the Skills of the Employees You Manage

Finding out about employee job skills

It is amazing what skills are wasted in the workplace because employees have skills and experience that go unnoticed and untapped.

As a new manager, it can be worth the time to really get to know your employees, in particular, to ascertain what skills and expertise they have both in and out of work.

The job role some employees have really might not reflect their full expertise and skill set and, very often, employees will appreciate the fact that you value their expertise.

Techniques for learning more about each employee you will manage, include:

  • Holding a one-to-one meeting with each employee. In addition to learning a few things about them, that give you a personal connection to them (i.e. they love to do yoga or to watch motor racing), you can use this meeting to ask about what their skills are and what they are good at.
  • Emailing the employees you manage and asking them to send you a list of any skills and expertise that they have both in and out of work and give them some examples.

Case Study: You chat with Margaret, who comes across as a fairly quiet and reserved lady who just gets on with her job and does it well and seems to get on fine with her colleagues.

You discover that outside of work Margaret is a dedicated volunteer for a local community center and she manages a team of 6 other volunteers.

She is also trained in first aid. You have been looking for an understudy and realize that Margaret could be the person.

You might also consider seeing if, as a team, you can do a fundraising event that helps Margaret’s community center.

In part, being a good manager is, in a sense, about winning hearts and minds and being seen to care about those people you manage.

7. Learn How to Deal with Conflict and with Difficult People

One of the hardest things as a new manager can be dealing with conflict between colleagues and dealing with difficult people.

These people can sometimes even be your previous colleagues who now treat you differently because now you are their manager.

It is inevitable that you will need to deal with these awkward situations from time to time.

There are techniques for dealing with conflict, and training in a topic such as ‘Conflict Management’ can be very worthwhile.

I recommend asking your HR departments if they provide such training.

Likewise, training in ‘Dealing with Difficult People’ can be a great way to understand how to manage these situations when they occur.

8. Avoid Micro-Managing

One of the biggest mistakes many new first-time managers make is to start micro-managing.

It’s understandable, in a sense, that as a new manager you want to make an impression and have everything under control and make sure everything is in place.

So many new managers, because they do not know their team that well, fail to give employees the trust to get on with their own roles.

I tend to feel that you are best off first giving the employee a chance to prove themselves and to then adjust the tasks and workloads etc. once you see there is a need to.

In other words, start off giving trust and confidence in each employee.

Do not micro-manage!

9. Understanding What a Team Is – “We” and “I”

Leading a team at work as a first time manager

Many first-managers who are looking to prove themselves, go in quite heavy-handed and have a ‘them’ and ‘me’ style approach.

It is essential though that you focus on the “we” and not the “I”.

For example, avoid always stating that “I want you to do this” or “I need you to do that”.

Put the emphasis on the team, on the collective.

Constantly using the word “we” to push the concept of togetherness and teamwork is very powerful when building teams.

Let me give you an example:

“I need you all to work harder so that I can meet the company’s sales target for this month”

changed to

“We need to work harder as a team to achieve our sales target for this month”

The second sentence that uses the “we” is all about achieving something as a team, i.e. it will be an achievement for everyone involved, rather than everyone working hard just to make you as a manager look good.

You might notice, when seeing players interviewed at the end of a match (for a team game), how they are trained to talk about the team achievement rather than their own skill at scoring a goal, for example.

The best results are most often achieved when teams work well together and it is up to you as their new manager to instill this team ethic in them.

10. Be Patient with Yourself

Do not be too tough on yourself as it WILL take time to develop as a manager.

Every great manager and every great leader has made mistakes and it is what you learn (or not) from the mistakes that will inevitably decide whether you turn out to be a great manager.

Overall, be confident in your own ability and be willing to learn and keep learning as you develop into a great manager.

If you are wondering what type of manager you should aim to be, you might want to think of the managers that you yourself have had in the past and write down what was good about each manager and what was bad.

Why not write down or draw a mental map of the type of manager that you want to be.

Further Resources

Here are some other resources to get more ideas on being a first-time manager:

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Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds

Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles & is she is the founder of Symonds Training.