Tips for First-Time Managers, From First-Time Managers

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    By Jennifer King, Guest Blogger

    Congratulations! You’ve finally been promoted to “manager.” While the bump in salary and new job title is nice, you now have heaps of responsibility you didn’t have before. As a manager, part of your new job is being responsible for the growth and well-being of an entire team.

    You may be crying for help at this point. I spoke with a few recently-appointed managers and an executive coach to get their tips for first-time managers:

    1. Get to know your people and what they want. Take as much time as possible at the beginning of your transition to get to know your direct reports. Talk to them about their career goals, what they want out of their current position, and how you can best support them.

    According to Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager for Jive Software, “If you start by understanding the career goals and plans for each person, that will help you make better decisions that will benefit the company and the individual.”

    2. Learn to see your work through others. As a manager, you’ll likely be spending most of your time in meetings, discussions with senior management, and one-on-one conversations with your team, which will leave you less time to work on your own projects. You’ll eventually begin to see your work shine through your team as you give direction and offer guidance.

    “At first you may feel like you’re not getting tons of tangible things done,” explained Andria Elliott, Senior International Marketing Communications Specialist at National Instruments. “All your work now shows through a team of people instead of your individual self,” she notes.

    3. Listen. The ability to listen to your team and give guidance without assuming you immediately know the right answer will be critical as you spend more one-on-one time with your employees.

    That’s Mike Lee’s biggest piece of advice for first-time managers. As an assistant branch manager for Randstad, Lee says new managers should “strive to truly listen during discussions rather than prepare in your mind what you will say next.”

    “If you’re not a listener or a patient person, then you’ll constantly be asserting your will on people. That approach is antiquated,” says Lee.

    4. Develop your own style. While it may feel easy or natural to mimic the management tactics of your previous boss, those same tactics might not work for you. Instead, think about what they did and how you can learn from them to develop your own style.

    According to Houston Neal, marketing director for Software Advice, as a new manager, “you have to be true to yourself and develop your own style. Otherwise, your management will seem forced or ineffective as a result.”

    5. Don’t expect to “get it” at first. One of the biggest misconceptions held by first-time managers is that they’ll be good at management from the get-go. In most cases, though, new managers need training and development just like any new hire within an organization.

    Building a solid training plan with development goals and consistent performance evaluations with your supervisor is a great way to assess your progress during the first few months on the job.

    What advice do you have for first-time managers? What unexpected challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

    For more resources, see the Library topic Career Management.

    Jennifer King is an HR Analyst for, a website that reviews and compares HR and performance review software. She reports on trends, technology, and best practices related to HR and career development.