6 Tips for First-Time Managers to Thrive at Work

by Alicia Clarke
Building Culture, Leading People - 3 years ago

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Alicia Clarke – content manager and freelance writer at Top Aussie Review. Her opinions are her own.

Have you just been promoted? Congratulations! All your hard work and great work ethic have paid off. This promotion is more than just about yourself now. Being a manager is about handling not just the work, but also people.

An excellent people manager gets the best out of each of their team members. You need to prioritize, delegate and coordinate tasks within your team. And do it in the most effective way.

Being a first-time manager doesn’t discount you from your own deliverables. You need to complete your work while at the same time making sure your people complete theirs too.

Not everybody is naturally talented to manage people right off the bat. First-time managers may not have the right people skills needed to play the part. At least, not at first. So here are 6 tips to help you sail through this promotion and thrive at work in your new role as a people manager!

1. Get acquainted with your team

This is a top tip that helps you understand your employees. Get to know them so you can manoeuvre your strategy around their personalities. A democratic leader would do that. But an autocratic leader would self-impose. Not everybody likes to work with autocratic leaders.

  • Have one-on-one sessions as often as you have the time.
  • Take them out for lunch once a month.
  • Hold group meetings and study the discussion.

So if you want your team to thrive, get to know them. They will be more productive with the tailored attention.

2. Mentor your team members

Take pride in the fact that your team members have the potential to thrive. Jump on every opportunity and mentor your team. Team members are likely to respond better to your leadership if they know you care about their progress too. You can mentor your team in many ways.

  • You could contribute to their training and professional development.
  • You could collaborate with them on a project.
  • You could coach your team members.

Mentoring is hands-on learning for both you and the individual team member. While mentoring, you work hard on expanding your knowledge. After all, you need to know what you’re dealing with, right? This improves your skills while your protege benefits from the relationship. You earn a lot of respect. Mentoring will increase your credibility in the work community.

3. Motivate your people

People leave bosses, not companies. You don’t want a demotivated employee in your team. You also don’t want people leaving you because of your poor leadership and management style. It takes a lot more energy, time and effort to manage demotivated employees. They are not as productive. And so, be a first-time manager that motivates.

  • Share your passion and enthusiasm with your team.
  • Always be sharing the goals and the mission of the business.
  • Recognize and appreciate their contribution.

Create a list of what you can do to motivate your team. Look over what you’ve come up with and tailor it to your team’s personality and what works best for them.

4. Delegate tasks

This is your first time juggling managing people and your own workload. You want to do your best to make sure that everybody can see that tasks are getting done. That does not mean you take it upon yourself to do everything. You need to delegate work when you become a manager. Communicate well:

  • What needs to be done;
  • How you expect the quality to be;
  • How to approach the task; and
  • The goal behind doing the task.

You are now a facilitator. You help others succeed by delegating work to them. Not by doing everything yourself.

5. Track their progress

So you’ve delegated tasks. Your job is not done yet! You now need to drive accountability. Be sure to check in to make sure the task is going well. Be open for questions if any task is particularly challenging or is hard to do. Some managers are afraid to check. Yes, it’s annoying to micromanage and work under someone who does. So don’t do that. Do this instead:

  • Ask for a weekly report. Nothing complicated or it may take more time. A simple one should work.
  • Talk about issues that impede their progress.
  • File accomplishments and progress for a performance review later.

6. Communicate effectively

Your team needs to know and understand what you expect from them. Communicate your goals, but in a way that your team understands, so everything they do aligns with the goals.

You can reinforce these goals while you have your one to one sessions or group meetings. Meetings without an agenda can drag on and waste everybody’s time. Make sure you run effective team meetings too.

  • Give constructive feedback: Who isn’t open to positive and constructive feedback? Everyone loves to know what their strengths are. So as a first-time manager, when you see a learning opportunity for your team member, use it. Don’t just talk about the negatives. Discuss the ways to correct them, but also reinforce their strengths by talking about them.
  • Don’t use email … to communicate goals or check progress. When in doubt, pick up the phone or call a quick standup meeting to keep track of progress. Sending negative feedback via email is a big deal to the person receiving it. Be sure to keep email as a last resort.
  • Ask Questions: Delegating, tracking progress, and giving constructive feedback can be overwhelming for a first-time manager. So ask questions. Check with your own manager for any doubt you may have about company policy. Use their insights and experience to move around the ocean of responsibilities as a new manager.

Being a first-time manager is no honeymoon. There comes a time when it can get a bit too overwhelming and stressful. That’s when you need to stay engaged and stay excited about coming to work and thriving each day.

The corporate drama can get serious. Don’t be that new manager who is always frowning. It’s important that you keep your sense of humour and positive mental attitude. Laugh with your team members, take it easy sometimes. You don’t have to be a hard manager that people fear. You can be that manager who cracks jokes and makes everyone comfortable around you.

Remember all work and no play? Don’t let that happen to you.