Five tips for the first time manager

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Landing your first management role can be a rollercoaster ride.

Once the elation of success has passed, you’re hit with the overwhelming reality of being responsible for others. Imposter syndrome kicks in; how can I expect these people to treat me as an authority figure when I have no idea what I’m doing? What if I get it wrong?

All of these thoughts are completely normal. But it’s important to remember that you’ve been placed in the role for a reason – somebody more senior than you believes that you’re up to the task. You have an opportunity to shine, and it’s time to create some strategies for success.

You’ll be bootstrapping your way through the job to begin with – at times, things will work out and at other times they won’t. That’s OK, as long as you treat this as a learning experience. Nobody expects you to be perfect from day one, but there are certain things you can do to make the transition smoother for yourself and your new team.

Here are five top tips for getting through the first few weeks.

  1. Be honest.

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Especially when the person can’t back up their arrogance. The best thing that you can do in these early days is be honest – admit to your team that this role is new to you and that you’re determined to do your best for them, but you’ll need some help along the way.

A little humility goes far in relationships, and people like to be asked for their opinion – it makes them feel noticed and appreciated. With this approach, you’ll win the respect of your team and they’ll do their best to make life a little easier for you.

  1. Two ears, one mouth.

Think of yourself as a sponge during the first few weeks of your new management role. Absorb everything you can from the people who know what they’re doing; your team.

Remember that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason – you should be listening at least twice as much as you are talking. And when you are talking, you should be asking questions

  1. Find the balance between ‘boss’ and ‘teammate’.

Although it’s important to humble yourself in these early days, remember that you are the boss, not just another member of the team. It’s important to build great relationships, but you need to subtly set yourself apart as well.

Don’t allow yourself to be dragged into office gossip or grumbles about the company. Unless it goes beyond the acceptable level of moaning, it’s not necessary to challenge this behaviour, but make it clear that you want no part of it.

  1. Follow through on promises.

This is a time when building trust is paramount to your future success. If you promise to get something done for your team, make sure you do it.

If you aren’t sure whether you can do something that they’ve asked for, don’t make a promise in the first place. Instead, offer to do your best and give them regular updates on any progress you’ve made. If requests pop up that feel unreasonable, challenge them – don’t make a name for yourself as a walkover.

  1. Reflect on your performance.

Again, these first few weeks are a learning experience. You are going to make mistakes, and you’re also going to have some big wins. It’s crucial that you reflect on your actions and the consequences of those actions on a daily basis in order to learn for next time. Keep a journal each evening after work has finished. What went well? What didn’t go so well? What would you do next time to make things go even better?

Your first role in management is an opportunity in more than one way. It’s a step up the career ladder, of course. But it’s also a chance for you to step outside your comfort zone and find out what you’re made of. Having a great line manager is one of the most fundamental aspects of workplace happiness – this is your opportunity to become one of the best.

About the author

Kate Jones writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect internship. To browse their graduate jobs London listings, visit their website. For senior roles, see the Inspiring Search page.

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