Tips for First-Time Managers

Congratulations on your promotion!

You've finally made you goal of becoming a manager. Supervising others can be extremely rewarding, but it is not without its challenges. As a first time manager you need to prepare for your new role as a leader. Some employers provide leadership training for new managers. Others mistakenly assume that because you were good in your job, you will naturally be a good manager and throw you into the role without adequate support. If this is your case, take some time to read about the attributes of successful leaders and talk to managers you admire. Better yet, find a mentor who can guide you during those precarious first years. As a first time manager, here are some factors you will want to consider:

What is a Manager?
Managers are leaders who bring people together for the purpose of accomplishing an organization's goals. As the bridge between senior management and your team, you need to be able to communicate your organization's "big picture" while effectively supporting your team. Having the technical knowledge is helpful, but supervising others to meet corporate goals requires another set of skills. Often referred to as "soft skills," they include hiring the right people for the right job, delegating work and monitoring performance, motivating, training and developing employees, problem solving, communicating expectations to staff and reporting potential problems/successes to senior management. These "soft skills" aren't as easy to learn as the technical knowledge you acquired for your job, but as a manager they are even more important.

Adopting a Management Style
The "Old School" Manager was someone who was autocratic and controlling, using his/her position of power to get results. With new technologies, diversity, restructuring and globalization, the workforce has changed as has the trend in management style. Today's successful leaders subscribe to a coaching model. They focus on building positive relationships with their employees, communicating openly and encouraging involvement in decision making at the lowest levels. As a new manager, you may be supervising a team of people who, yesterday, were your peers. Finding the right balance between authority figure, coach and friend can be difficult to gage. Modeling your behavior after managers you respect is a good start, as is the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated.

Tips for Success
As a new manager all eyes will be on you, and yes, you are bound to make mistakes. Fortunately, successful managers share some common traits. By following their examples, you can rise to the ranks of an effective leader.

• Be positive and friendly, but establish authority. You can accomplish this by getting to know the responsibilities and strengths of each team member. Be visible and ask questions. Identify the informal leaders who can help you understand the traditions and culture of the group. Be direct with your communication and confident in your decision-making, beginning with small decisions first.

• Treat employees fairly and with respect. Begin by establishing your expectations and standards of behavior verbally and through role modeling. Employees appreciate knowing what is expected and will respect a manager who takes control when discipline is required.

• Establish an environment of trust and support. Employees should feel comfortable discussing their problems with you. It is your responsibility as a manager to see that they have the resources and emotional support required to get the job done.

• Give credit where credit is due. Recognizing your employees efforts, especially to senior management, will go a long way in motivating employees to perform at their best. Employees like to know how they are doing. Remember how much a "thank you" from your boss meant to you?

• Take responsibility for professional development. Assist your employees in enhancing their performance, learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. Some managers are insecure about helping their employees get ahead. The best managers have a reputation for developing others.

• Admit when you need help. The true test of a good manager is what you do when something goes wrong. Apologize if appropriate. Take ownership of the mistake and look for ways to correct it. Don't be afraid to ask for help from others who may have the wisdom, skill or resources to assist you.

It is easy to tell a good manager from and bad manager. But being a good manager isn't as easy as it looks. As you move into the ranks of management, give careful thought to the behaviors of those you respect. Effective managers are willing to take on the attitude and put in the effort required to lead others into the future.

Terry Pile is the principal of Career Advisors and Five O'clock Club Coach. She provides career development and transition services to individuals and small businesses. She can be reached at or