Tips for First Time Managers

Career Blog

man adjusts his suit clothesSo you finally scored that manager promotion. Congratulations. Now grab your helmet. Seasoned managers know that the title and accompanying pay increase comes with a variety of additional responsibilities. To make the most of the opportunity follow these tips.  

  1. Change Your Focus – Marshall Goldsmith once said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” The most important thing for a first-time manager to do is to change his/her definition of success. While it once came as a direct result of individual efforts, going forward it will be a product of the team’s contributions. Managers are expected to contribute to the organization at a higher level and that comes from harnessing the team’s expertise – individually and as a group.
  2. Listen First – Unless you are building a brand new team at a brand new company, the people you inherit will have a backstory – a history of achievements and setbacks. Before setting plans into motion get your team’s take on where things stand and where they should go. Talk to related departments and customers to round out your understanding. This will allow you to build rapport while simultaneously dodge cultural landmines.
  3. Establish Goals – Ensure you and your manager are aligned on expectations for team deliverables. When you know what exceeding expectations looks like and how those contributions benefits the organization, you can share that information with your team and use it to motivate them.
  4. Invest in Coaching – If you don’t have a coach or mentor, get one fast. Managing people is completely different than managing projects. While you can’t prepare for every possible situation, you can line up a sounding board for tricky issues. And don’t be afraid to lean on HR when needed. The good ones have seen successful managers of all styles and likely walked the bad ones out the door.
  5. Ensure Communication – Schedule one on ones with your staff and team meetings to ensure you stay in the loop. Having your staff take ownership of their one-to-one agendas and rotating responsibility for the team meetings will help you resist the temptation to micromanage. 

Managing and eventually learning to lead others is an honor that should never be viewed as a burden or a stepping-stone to the next career move. We’ve all had terrible managers and others who have may a lasting impact on our careers. Strive to be among the latter group.

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Be sure to check out my book The Introvert’s Guide to Job Hunting: and follow me on Twitter at @timtoterhi


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