Five top tips for first-time managers

Managing a team for the first time can be a daunting task, but it is also an important part of progressing through your career and developing professionally 
by Tom Hagues

For those who are taking the plunge into the management pool, here are five ways that you can prepare yourself and help you stay afloat. 
Get to know your teamUnderstanding your team members and how they work will help you manage effectively and get the best out of them. Fostering camaraderie is important, says Mary Shapiro, author of the HBR guide to leading teams, adding that you should resist the urge to immediately start talking about the work and the task outcome. You can do this by having coffee breaks together or finding out how everyone is getting on at the end of a meeting, and finding out how they like to work.
Change your focus Most management positions mark a big change in people’s everyday tasks. As a manager, you are responsible for your team’s successes and failures, and you are no longer focused solely on your own tasks. A key aspect to remember is that when you’re credited with your team’s success, you must share that credit with the wider team. Making your mantra more team-focused will help you achieve this – think ‘for the greater good’. 
As a manager, you are responsible for your team’s successes and failures, and you are no longer focused solely on your own tasksFind a mentorNew managers should remember that they are not the first to go through such a change in their career. It is highly likely that a more senior manager will have gone through the same anxieties as you and they can be useful for getting to grips with your move up the career ladder. Your mentor might just be a sounding board for questions or they might help you work out how best to handle a situation. Either way, their insight will be helpful to you as you set out on your management journey. 
Listen and learn lessons quicklyInstead of charging in and changing everything immediately in a bid to establish authority or make your mark, take the time to find out what needs fixing. Ask your team lots of questions, such as: What do you like about your job? What are the challenges you face in your role? And what do you think could be improved?
Manage your relationship changesBeing promoted to a management position within the same company can mean a big shift in the way you interact with members of your team, who, until your promotion, would have been your peers. Avoid playing favourites with your lunch or desk buddies, and address the changes quickly. Let your friends know that your relationship will have to become more professional and that as a supervisor, there is an expectation of you to behave in a certain way. 

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Published: 27 Apr 2018
  • Career Development
  • The Review
  • professional development
  • career
  • Career advice
  • Management

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