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7 Tips for First-Time Managers

By Samantha Rupp - September 08, 2020


Effective management is what brings a company together and ensures ceaseless smooth-sailing through daily operations. Leadership that works is a crucial element to the success of any business, which is why having a robust managerial team is essential. No matter what industry you’re in, competent management is an integral piece to any company’s bigger picture puzzle. 


Responsible for planning, implementing, executing, and overseeing department operations, managers’ top priorities revolve around the employees working under their direction. Becoming a manager for the first time is an exciting promotion and an experience that will take plenty of trial and error to truly figure out. 


Are you a new manager leading a strategic planning session for your team?



As you make your move up the corporate ladder, it’s important to acknowledge that this new position comes with a great weight of authority. The success of your team lies in your hands, and without structured, balanced, and fair management, the potential for that success plummets.


Naturally, with so much pressure resting on the effectiveness of your managerial and leadership skills, feeling overwhelmed is completely justifiable. Using these 7 tips, we’ll provide the sage wisdom you need to enter your first managerial position with prudence and grounded methodology.


Tip #1: Create a framework of your expectations and standards

Your team is your most important asset, and as a manager, it’s your job to set the standards for how everyone can measure success. This, of course, will vary by industry, but it’s incredibly important for your direct reports to understand what a job well-done looks like. For most, this entails a multi-step process that may include anything from proficiency in specific software programs to deliverable content ready by specified deadlines. Whatever it is that ensures your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals are fulfilled, let those standards be crystal clear to your direct reports.


One of the most common mistakes first-time managers make is jumping into their new position without setting solid objectives. Your team needs to understand exactly what you’re looking for in order to perform up to the standards you have in mind. The best way to guarantee those results are yielded is by developing a structured framework. 


Success should be black and white—make sure your team is able to accurately distinguish the black and white from the grey. Whether that prompts you to create an employee handbook or revisit your training processes, extinguishing gray areas should be at the top of your managerial to-do list.


Tip #2: Delegate efficiently

One of the most crucial responsibilities of a manager is carrying the overall vision of your team and organization, and ensuring that said vision comes to fruition. In order to do this, managers must first set their team up for success with the tools and information they need to make effective progress.


Before you can begin to distribute work and deadlines, you must first assess the nitty-gritty details of the work ahead. This means outlining the task, providing context for the task, setting measurable standards, and providing support. The more information your team members are able to work with from the start, the better output you’ll see. Honing your delegation skills only works to better streamline efficiency in your department.


Tip #3: Stay hands-on with the work

If you were recently promoted to your new managerial position, odds are fairly likely that you were offered the position based on your outstanding quality of work and leader-like discipline. While being a manager changes your overall responsibilities, it shouldn’t completely remove you from the work you were doing before your promotion. Even though you’ve graduated levels of work, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your team is to continue to stay hands-on with the work, even if you don’t necessarily have to.


Whether you’re managing a team of bartenders or creative writers, offering to help close the bar on a Saturday night, or helping brainstorm new ideas for next month’s content will earn you the respect you seek from your direct reports. And at the end of the day, you understand the job well enough to be trusted with the vision of it’s management and future success— by staying hands-on with the work, you can maintain a realistic perspective on everyday tasks and build team camaraderie and culture.


Tip #4: Learn from feedback

Nobody likes hearing criticism, but as a managerial figure, it’s an important part of growth. This is especially true of first-time managers—you’re not going to be a perfect manager (and who knows if there’s even such a thing!), but by taking feedback seriously and adjusting your practices accordingly, you can serve your team and company better.


If you’re the type of person who has a hard time processing negative feedback, it may be more helpful to look at your pitfalls and shortcomings as learning opportunities. Turn those failures into future goals. Not only does working toward mending these gaps show your team that you’re genuinely invested in becoming a better leader for them, but it will make you a stronger, more confident manager down the road.


If your job doesn’t warrant regular feedback from your direct reports, you could take it upon yourself to issue out anonymous surveys that evaluate your skills as a manager and ask your team what they like, what they dislike, and how they’d like you to improve.


Tip #5: Listen to your direct reports

Cliché as it may sound, listening is an essential part of being a manager. That doesn’t simply mean hearing what your direct reports have to say—it means taking their feedback and ideas and understanding the context of their questions, concerns, and ideas. 


Striking that fine balance between giving instruction and listening to feedback is admittedly difficult as a first-time manager as you want to stay true to your vision and best serve your team. However, even with potentially competing priorities, it’s your job as manager to create workable solutions that acknowledge everyone’s needs.


Tip #6: Don’t micro-manage

While micromanaging can be an effective tactic for training new employees or boosting productivity levels for under-performing team members, it can be a massive morale killer for the rest of your team. Excessive supervision creates a myriad of problems within your team that can corrode all trust built. 


Studies have even shown that micromanagement can lead to high staff turnover, reduced productivity, and decreased growth potential—all three of which are most highly associated with employee resignation. By giving your team a sense of autonomy and letting them do their jobs without constant questioning and peering eyes, you can loosen your own slack and create happier workers. 


Tip #7: Recognize and reward good work

When all is said and done, you shouldn’t be the only one celebrating the good work created by your team. Having fostered a sense of shared purpose, your team should also share in recognition and reward. This type of R&R is a fundamental part of human need in the workplace and can make a world of difference in employee happiness and retention. 


As a first-time manager, you will want to know when and if you are performing above and beyond expectations—your team members want the same. Make an effort to commend hard work and celebrate the goals achieved. There are plenty of different ways you can show your appreciation beyond a simple thank you. Whether it’s a cash bonus or a complimentary happy hour, coming up with ways to make your employees feel seen and valued is essential.


Congratulations on your new role as manager! This new adventure on your career path will be full of learning experiences that will better you as a professional and as a person. With these 7 tips in mind, you’ll be able to dive in with the confidence and wisdom you need to get started.

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