First-time managers are often so focused on their performance that they forget to think about the people working for them. The learning curve of being a first-time manager is steep but manageable.
By focusing on a few key areas, you can manage your team effectively and focus on your job function as well.
In this article, we look at some common traps that new managers often fall into and how to get out of them so that you manage your team successfully.
14 Critical Advices for First-Time Managers: How to Succeed as a New Manager
Being a manager can be a tough gig – you give up some of the autonomy and flexibility that was once your workplace standard, and if you’re not careful you can fall into some traps that can drive away your co-workers and derail your department’s best efforts.
First-time managers often get so wrapped in the day-to-day management of their direct reports that they forget to take a step back and focus on how their performance impacts others.
14 tips from expert managers you can practice as a first-time manager:
1. Adopt a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is an important concept in business and leadership. A Growth Mindset is one where you see your employees as people who can grow and develop over time through experience and feedback.
If you want to be a successful manager, adopting a growth mindset will go a long way: this means that if someone on your team needs help, you’re open and willing to offer it; when conflicts arise with employees or other managers, instead of getting defensive you look for ways to resolve the issue; when an employee makes a mistake or does something wrong, you handle the situation in such a way that they learn from it rather than punishing them (by making an example out of them).
Changing your mindset from seeing employees as static entities who are either good at their job or not, to people who can learn and adapt over time is a powerful mindset shift that you can apply as a first-time manager.
2. Seek Feedback Early and Often
A common trap for first-time managers is to assume they’re doing a good job because nobody has said otherwise. While not every new manager needs regular feedback from their employees, beginning managers should set up an ongoing dialogue with their staff.
Even if the areas of focus are unclear at this stage, simply initiating contact with your employees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis will help establish rapport and make them feel supported by you in their roles.
As the company begins to grow and things settle down more, set up an arrangement where once per quarter each employee gives you feedback either through a formal 360-degree review or a quick monthly chat.
3. Finding Out What You’re Doing Well
A common feedback question that new managers often ask is “What areas do you think I need to improve on the most?” While this can be a useful question, it doesn’t provide any insight into what you’re doing well.
This is because employees typically only bring up issues when they see them – if problems don’t show up daily in their work yet exist at all then chances are your employees have written them off as “just how things are”.
Instead of asking your employees what they think needs to change, focus on the positive by asking “What do I do well?”. The answer to this will help you identify areas where you already have a good grasp.
4. Don’t Micromanage Employees, Manage Them
Micromanaging employees isn’t just annoying to them, it can be counterproductive as well. One of the worst feelings is when an employee needs help with something and manages to get bad advice from another manager who’s not sure what to do either.
Managers often become concerned that their employees are going to “screw up” or aren’t doing things correctly without asking for guidance first.
The problem with this approach is that even if your employees ask you for help, they’re already stressed out about trying to complete a task without any guidance.
This leads many new managers into the trap of constantly hovering over their staff members’ shoulders and offering unsolicited advice – all while wasting both of your time.
It’s important to realize that most new managers are naturally prone to micromanaging, but the best way to fix this is by finding a balance between giving employees enough autonomy and support from you without being too hands-off.
5. Don’t Make Assumptions About What Employees Can Do
It can be easy for the first-time manager to make assumptions about employees’ talents based on what they know about themselves – however, this can lead them down a dangerous path where they end up not taking responsibility for any problems occurring in their department.
This never leads to a good outcome as it means you’re neglecting your role as a leader and setting yourself up as the only one who can solve problems.
Instead of assuming employees will know how to handle certain issues, allow them to decide how they should be handled and ask for their ideas.
6. Show Your Employees That You Appreciate Their Work
People like working hard when they know it’s going towards a meaningful goal, so as a first-time manager your job is to create that feeling within your department.
This can be done by sharing inspiring company goals with your team regularly – oftentimes this information may already be available but not widely shared.
If necessary take the time to help send out emails or documents explaining where the company has been and where it’s going next. It’s also important to make sure you show appreciation for your employees’ work often.
Even if there are no major successes recently, be sure to at least thank your employees for their time and effort – this will help your team stay encouraged even during times of smaller-scale successes.
7. Be Clear About What Employees Can Expect from You
Sometimes being a manager means having to say “no” more often than you would have liked as an employee, so it’s important to keep this in mind when taking on new staff members.
It’s also critical not to make promises that you can’t keep. Set clear boundaries with reminders about what both you and the company can offer your employees – this way they’ll know ahead of time what their job will entail.
If there are certain things that you simply can’t do or provide, then perhaps hiring a second manager down the road would be a good solution.
8. Remember You Don’t Have to Know All the Answers
Being a new manager can be intimidating, especially when you feel like you have too many questions compared to the number of answers you can provide.
This can result in managers trying to remember every single task and how it should be done which only adds more stress on top of an already difficult job so it’s important not to try and control everything – this will help your team members become more comfortable with their daily tasks and take ownership for their responsibilities.
9. Be Patient & Collaborative
This is where communication skills come in handy. Make sure that you’re updating everyone on the progress of projects by providing feedback promptly and always welcoming suggestions or feedback from employees. It may even help if you rank your employees in terms of expertise/knowledge so that you can get the most accurate answers to your questions depending on who’s working.
10. Conflict Resolution
Not every single person is inevitably going to agree all the time, which means there are bound to be conflicts, however, managers need to remember that this doesn’t have to become a major issue – instead, use past experiences and examples of how problems were handled in the past by other employees/managers if necessary.
11. Be Confident But Not Arrogant
Being new comes with its own set of benefits but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be confident in your abilities or what you bring to an organization. However, don’t let confidence turn into arrogance especially when dealing with employees.
Be aware of your strengths and embrace them but also be conscious of how some employees may not be as confident in their abilities – which can turn into defensiveness when given criticism.
12. Stay Positive
First-time managers will likely encounter situations that don’t go according to plan (and some that do) but it’s important to remember that this is normal.
While some issues will need more attention than others, try to focus on the positives especially if you get through an especially challenging situation without too much trouble – this can help build rapport with your team members so they trust you even more.
13. Ask More Open-Ended Questions
Having more of an inquisitive approach can help get your thoughts across especially in meetings by encouraging people to offer their insight which can lead to unexpected but valuable (and interesting) conversations.
14. Talk About the “Bigger Picture”
When you need to discuss problems or issues with employees it’s easy to focus on one singular issue but this is often not the best way of fostering collaboration when trying to reach a common goal.
Instead, be sure to emphasize how certain challenges (such as delayed projects) may affect other areas within the company and encourage discussion about what can be done – this will then give everyone a chance to provide ideas that could previously only be seen in hindsight.
What Skills Do First-time Managers Need?
First-time managers need communication and listening skills. This is key to getting employees on board with new initiatives or projects that they may be asked to work on since the success of these largely depends on how well you’re able to convey your vision and connect with everyone involved.
Additionally, it’s important for first-time managers not only to listen but also to take note of what employees are saying because their feedback can lead to unexpected insights especially when there are problems that sometimes come up during an event, project, or even a process. First-time managers should also have leadership skills.
While you don’t always need to be the one calling all of the shots, it’s important to show that you are capable of working with people to get things done while providing support when needed because if not, these employees might start looking for another role within the organization.
It’s also useful for first-time managers to have sales skills that can help them promote their ideas – this requires having a clear understanding of your goals and then developing a persuasive argument that makes rational sense but also appeals emotionally.
When creating this kind of pitch other members within the company will be more likely to put themselves in your shoes so they understand where you’re coming from which is why it’s important not only to know what you want to achieve but also why.
Dos and Don’ts for the First-time Managers
- Do be open to new ideas from employees so that everyone feels like they have a voice and are being heard
- Do keep an eye out for potential problems with processes, events, or projects so you can find solutions before they affect your reputation
- Do ask questions when in doubt since most of the time employees will have a solution even if it’s not what is expected
- Do give employees feedback on employees performance to encourage them to improve where necessary
- Do set clear expectations when delegating tasks
- Do take time when making important decisions so that you can find the best solution
- Do encourage employees to ask questions when in doubt
- Don’t expect that all of your ideas are going to be accepted or implemented by employees
- Don’t micromanage employees because this will affect their morale and motivation levels in a negative way
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep since this will damage your credibility
- Don’t decide on big changes without involving other people in the decision-making process
- Don’t allow yourself to become an obstacle when it comes to coming up with new ideas and initiatives
Motivating & Managing Employees as First-time Manager
It is important to set clear expectations for employees and provide praise and recognition frequently. There are different ways to motivate your staff; find the one that works best for you and your team.
To effectively manage employees, remember to keep communicating with them about various aspects of their job. Motivating and managing employees can be a challenge for any first-time manager.
There are several techniques that you could utilize to ensure your team is happy and productive. Some of these techniques include setting clear expectations, providing recognition and praise to employees, and keeping your team involved in the decision-making process.
First-time managers must also be able to minimize workplace politics while making sure they are not ignoring any problems that could arise within their department. To understand motivating and managing employees, you must first understand the different types of management styles.
For example, pacesetting is an autocratic style that includes power and status symbols. This type of manager is doing work for their employees, rather than with them.
Another approach to managing employees is Participative Management, wherein managers and employees discuss all decisions together: what needs to be done, why it needs to be done, and how it can be done.
Participative Management assumes that employees are capable of making good decisions; however, they will not make any decision without approval from a supervisor or manager.
Finally, Democratic Management allows for shared control between managers and employees by allowing everyone involved to have equal say in the process. Decisions are made jointly through brainstorming sessions where no idea or suggestion is considered bad.
A key part of motivating and managing employees is making sure they are properly trained on the tasks they need to perform; this will help them feel like an integral part of your team. Providing feedback is also important, no matter if it is positive or negative.
Employees want to know what they are doing well, as well as where they can improve so that their efforts can be acknowledged more frequently. Finally, you should pay attention to your employees’ needs by encouraging opportunities for growth and career advancement within your organization.
Motivating and managing employees require first-time managers to do a little bit of everything. They must set clear expectations, provide praise and recognition regularly, minimize workplace politics while addressing any issues that arise in their department, and be able to motivate their team through various styles of management.
Useful Tips & Tricks for First-time Managers
So what exactly makes a good first-time manager? According to managers who have managed their careers successfully, effective communication is the most valuable skill any new manager can have.
Communication and collaboration is the best way to make sure your department runs smoothly and efficiently, so focus on refining these skills when you take on a new management position.
As a first-time manager, it’s important to trust your employees and give them space to become comfortable enough with their work that they can manage themselves. You shouldn’t be micromanaging every aspect of your employee’s day; instead, provide constructive feedback and guidance where necessary while allowing them to discover what works best for their workflow.
It may feel like everyone is asking you questions all the time but remember that this is normal for anyone who holds a new managerial position and if anything it shows how engaged your employees are regarding their jobs – it means they care about the success of the department, your goals, and their work.
Be sure to take some time each day to answer any questions that may come up during the day but don’t get bogged down in the very fine details. Set aside specific times throughout the week for these meetings so it doesn’t feel like you’re constantly being interrupted.
Finally, remember that being a first-time manager is not necessarily an easy task especially with numerous responsibilities on your plate. That’s why it’s important to have someone who can provide advice or support if necessary so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
Examples of Most Common Mistakes of a New Managers
With the constant changes in the workforce and employees’ needs, it’s easy for a new manager to get lost or forget what is required of their job. The most common mistake made by first-time managers is not knowing what they’re good at.
New managers need to take some time and reflect on how they’ve handled situations in past jobs, what skills they may have that can be carried over into this role, and to keep an open mind about how best to lead their team.
Why do First-Time Managers Fail?
Having more responsibilities can be both a good and bad thing depending on how the company values success – it’s important to set goals that are achievable while maintaining a long-term vision which can often get lost when new managers start feeling too anxious about keeping up with standards.
It’s also important for first-time managers to recognize that they may struggle with decision-making because their choice will then affect everyone within the organization (employees, customers, etc.) so it’s best to take time when making any big changes in an attempt to find the best solution.
The main reason why first-time managers fail is that they come into this role thinking that all of their ideas will be accepted by employees but unfortunately this isn’t always true, especially when as a manager, you’re just starting.
Generally, employees will listen to what you have to say but it’s important not to let this turn into control over them where they feel like you’re dictating what they can and can’t do especially when it comes to non-work related activities (e.g. working from home, using social media outside of work hours).
First-time Manager Interview Questions and Answers?
When facing an interview as a first-time manager there are always bound to be some questions that just don’t sit well with you. These can come in different forms but will usually revolve around the type of person you are and how you would perform on the job.
No matter what they are, if you have prepared properly for them then it should not cause too many problems. Here are some common questions and answers that you should consider:
Why did you want to become a manager?
This is your chance to tell the interviewer why becoming a first-time manager has always been something of interest and what drove you towards this career. If it is because of ambition then make sure that comes across.
What made you qualify for this position?
Recruiters want people who are capable of doing the job they are applying for which means them asking questions like these can be fairly common. Don’t give too much away but at the same time don’t make things up as this could come back to haunt you in future interviews thanks to further questions by the recruiters.
What are your management strengths?
This is an opportunity for you to showcase how good of a manager you are likely to be. Some managers don’t have any specific strengths but that doesn’t mean they make bad ones, it’s probably best to explain why your skills are what they are and where they have come from.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
You don’t have to know this for certain or even have the slightest idea but the interviewer will be looking at your ambition levels here. First-time managers can get stuck in one position so showing them that you want more is certainly going to help with impressing them. Just keep things realistic, there is no point telling them that you want their job in five years.
What interests you about our company?
This is your chance to let the interviewer know why you are interested in their company, which could be because of how good it looks on paper, what they have done in the past or what they are planning for the future. Just make sure that it’s interesting and try not to repeat too much from things they already know.
What are your weaknesses?
You should expect to get asked this question when applying for jobs as a first-time manager so make sure you have given it some thought beforehand. They want to know what you are working on improving in yourself and that’s the best way to answer this request. Never turn them into positives or they could see straight through your lies.
Do you have any questions for us?
Not having any questions at all shows that you don’t care about making an impression which can be disastrous in many different types of interview situations. You need to come across well here so always have a couple saved up just in case there is time near the end of proceedings.
List of 5 Motivating Quotes for New Managers
- “Done is better than perfect.” -Sheryl Sandberg
- “Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” -Peter Drucker
- “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” -Steve Jobs
- “Tend to the people, and they will tend to the business.” -John Maxwell
- “Forget about the fast lane. If you want to fly, just harness your power to your passion.” -Oprah Winfrey
Best Books for First-time Managers
1. Drive, by Daniel H. Pink
How will you inspire individuals to perform at their very best now that you’re in command of a team? This is the question that the author answers in the book. Daniel H. Pink explains why, unlike popular belief, extrinsic incentives like money aren’t the greatest approach to drive high performance in this bestselling business book.
Employers should concentrate on instilling autonomy, mastery, and purpose in their employees instead of relying on external motivators such as money.
2. The One Thing You Need to Know, by Marcus Buckingham
Great managers, according to Buckingham, can identify their staff’s unique talents and make the most of them. This method, he claims, is far more successful than trying to address individuals’ flaws.
Setting clear expectations, giving praise and recognition, and demonstrating your care for others are among the suggestions he offers for motivating high performance.
3. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Human thinking may be divided into two systems: “System 1” is fast and instinctive, while “System 2” is slow and deliberate. The author isolates numerous cognitive biases that affect our everyday conduct, including the halo effect and the planning fallacy.
This book will help you anticipate administrative psychological hurdles you and your team will encounter while moving into people administration, as well as provide scientific techniques for overcoming them.
4. Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader, by Herminia Ibarra
Act Like a Leader is jam-packed with out-of-the-box management ideas for both existing and aspiring managers. Ibarra, a business school professor at INSEAD, recommends that executives take action first and then reflect so that they may learn from their mistakes.
There’s even an entire section dedicated to the hazards of being too honest at work. Overall, the book is a call to action that reminds you that to lead your team to success, you’ll have to get out of your comfort zone.
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie
This book is a classic. It has been selling for more than 80 years since its publication and is still a bestseller today. Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most well-known investors, has praised it as one of his favorite books, stating that it helped him get through difficult periods in high school.
Frequently Asked Questions About First-time Managers
What should a first-time manager not do?
Most new managers should stay away from making a few common mistakes. Do not be too nervous to delegate directly. While you may be uncomfortable at first, make sure your employees clearly understand the task you assign them. Clear up any questions they may have, too. Avoid micromanaging employees.
This leads to a decrease in trust within your employee/employee relationship. When you make decisions, do not set aside the most difficult tasks for last. Tackle them first so you can maximize your energy. Finally, do not use “I” phrasing. When talking about goals and business values, use “we” instead.
What skills do first time managers need?
There are many key skills that new managers need to possess. For instance, you need to be adaptable. The workplace is constantly changing, and being able to adapt to these ever-changing circumstances is key to keeping your company’s competitive advantage. When dealing with employees, new managers must have critical thinking skills and interpersonal skills.
This will help them communicate effectively and better relate to employees. Critical thinking allows the manager to assess and mitigate conflicts well, as well as properly assign tasks.
What should a new manager do in the first 30 days?
The first 30 days are crucially important to new managers. To start off on the right foot, ensure that your team understands your vision. Make sure they are clear about your goals and values.
Ensure they are aware of your expectations of them. Try to learn about how the team functions. See why and how conflicts develop so you can mitigate them better. Notice how individual goals overlap with company goals. Assign tasks based on these individual goals and individual strengths.