Alumni Guide to Succeeding as a First-Time Manager

Congratulations on your recent promotion to manager! (Or, if it’s not happened yet, hopefully, it will come soon!) Taking on a managerial role can be both exciting and overwhelming. You may have weeks or even just a few days to make a good impression on your team, earn their respect, and establish your leadership style. Don’t worry; we’re here to help you with practical advice and essential management skills!

Effective Communication – As a manager, you are responsible for ensuring that your team understands its objectives, the assigned tasks, and the completion timeline. The foundation of all good communication is active listening. Encourage open dialogue with your team and listen actively when they speak. When you show your team that you are listening, they will feel heard and be more willing to engage with you.

Delegation – As a first-time manager, learning to delegate properly is essential. As tempting as it may be to do everything yourself, delegation is crucial to your team’s success. You can encourage your team members by letting them know that you trust them with the tasks assigned and give them opportunities to develop their skills. Be sure to assign tasks matching the team member’s strengths and interests and provide any support they need.

Leading by Example – You are a role model for the rest of your team, and they will look to you to set the tone for how to behave in the workplace. Lead by example by being punctual, treating others with respect, being honest, and working collaboratively with your team. If you expect your team to work hard, you must set an example by working hard yourself.

Promoting Professional Development – Personal and professional growth is critical to the success of any organisation. Encourage your employees to seek out new learning opportunities, attend conferences, and build their skill sets. Wherever possible, provide opportunities for your team to develop professionally by offering training and mentorship programmes, and be willing to support any further education or training required for your team members.

Focusing on Results – Ultimately, your role as a manager is to ensure that your team is producing quality work that aligns with your organisation’s goals. Keep a focus on results and try to avoid micromanagement (i.e. excessive supervision and control of employees’ work and processes). A high-performance team will appreciate the trust you place in them, and providing them with autonomy and ownership over their work often leads to excellent results.

Time management – Time management is a crucial skill for any manager, as you have to juggle multiple tasks and priorities. Learn to prioritise your work and focus on the most important projects first. Use tools like to-do lists, calendars, and project management software to keep track of your tasks and deadlines. As mentioned above, delegate tasks to your team members when appropriate, but remember to follow up and provide guidance to avoid miscommunication and mistakes. Good time management helps ensure timely and quality deliverables, reduces stress, and it improves work-life balance.,

Embracing Empathy – Being empathetic means putting yourself in your team’s shoes and understanding their emotions and experiences. It’s a critical skill that can help you build strong relationships with your team and foster a collaborative work culture. Try to understand what motivates your team members, acknowledge their challenges, and be supportive of their needs. Empathy helps you connect with your team on a personal level, leading to higher employee engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction.

Resolving Conflict – Conflict is inevitable in any workplace, and as a manager, you need to handle it efficiently to maintain a positive work environment. Learn to identify the early signs of conflicts and address them promptly and impartially. Be an active listener and understand both parties’ perspectives before making any decisions. Find common ground and seek a win-win solution that satisfies everyone. Conflict resolution skills can help you manage team dynamics, improve productivity, and prevent a high turnover of staff.