Stepping into the role of a first-time manager is an exhilarating experience, but let’s be honest—it comes with its fair share of challenges. Juggling a new workload and overseeing a team can feel overwhelming. Especially in organisations lacking adequate training and mentoring, the learning curve for a first-time manager can be pretty steep.
The working habits that made you a standout team member might not be the same ones that will serve you well in a leadership role. Here’s a quick reality check: It’s time to reassess your behaviours and skills. Let’s dive into three essential tips for a smooth transition as a first-time manager.
Identify your allies
As a first-time manager, you’re not just responsible for your immediate team; your role impacts the entire organisation. You’ll interact with various stakeholders, from your manager to line managers and cross-functional teams. While you might be pondering what they expect from you, don’t forget to flip the script. What can these people do to support you and your team?
Create a mental map—or better yet, jot it down—of how you can mutually benefit from each relationship within the organisation. Realise that you have a support network; try to cultivate it.
Expect the unexpected
One common pitfall for the first-time manager is the trap of overplanning. You’re keen to excel, so you meticulously plan your days, resulting in a jam-packed calendar with no room for the unexpected. And trust me, the unexpected will happen.
While planning is essential, leaving some wiggle room is also crucial. Consider blocking out 1-2 hours in your day as an “unplanned” slot. This extra time can be a lifesaver when unforeseen challenges pop up, allowing you to support your team without scrambling or sacrificing other commitments.
Encourage upward management
Being a first-time manager may bring out some anxiety—you feel like you must know everything that’s going on with your team at all times. This mentality, although well-intentioned, can lead to micromanagement.
The downside? Micromanagement can stifle your team’s productivity and even lead to burnout. For you, it’s a stress factory. Instead, strive for a balance. Encourage upward management where team members take responsibility for how work gets done. Regular one-to-ones where they steer the agenda can be a good starting point. Topics could range from recent accomplishments to upcoming priorities and any potential roadblocks. This approach builds trust within the team and frees you up from time-wasting micromanagement.
Supporting Resource: Download and share the My Desk template with your team to improve 1-1 meetings.
Embrace the experience of a first-time manager.
Being a first-time manager is no small feat, but these strategies can improve how you handle your time and responsibilities. By fostering positive relationships, preparing for the unexpected, and allowing team autonomy, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the managerial landscape. After all, successful management isn’t just about meeting goals; it’s about developing a sustainable approach that benefits you and your team.