How To Handle Your First Management Role

Landing your first management role is an occasion for celebration. You’ve probably worked hard to climb up the corporate ladder and now you’ve been rewarded with promotion. In our diverse fast changing modern workplaces a manager’s role is particularly challenging.

One style of management doesn’t necessarily get the best results. As a newly appointed manager you have to be highly adaptable in your approach.

The first thing you are going to want to do is get to know your team. You’ll want to understand their jobs of course. Also take time to get to know them as people not just a job role. If you start with an open and honest approach you’ll quickly gain trust and respect from people in your team.

People Management is crucial in your first management role

This is probably one of the biggest changes to your new responsibilities and one of the most important to get right. Most newly promoted managers are technical experts in their job discipline and sector.

It’s a common issue that newly promoted managers don’t necessarily have the people management skills or experience.

There also tends to be an assumption that because a manager is a technical expert they’ll be able to take on the people responsibility with no real issues.

It’s not easy getting it right and it will take time. If you want people to respect you as a manager you’ll need to display the characteristics you want to see in the team and be that positive role model.

“If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.”

John C. Maxwell.

Important tips for your first management role

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Managing performance and appraisals: As a line manager you will be responsible for managing the team’s performance and the company’s official appraisal process. Most large organisations use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) objective setting process.

Ensure you spend time with your team agreeing these objectives as this will help to establish buy-in and ownership. Explain with clarity what will be the measurable outcomes relating to their performance appraisal.

This will avoid any misunderstandings and unpleasant surprises in the appraisal. Managing performance isn’t a yearly activity – it’s an ongoing process.

The art of delegation: Again this is one of the most challenging for newly appointed managers. They’ve probably been solely responsible for doing all the work and delivering against targets, key performance indicators or objectives.

So, you’ve got used to doing everything yourself. Delegation is a highly effective skill when managing your new team. It has several benefits, improving skills and knowledge, building trust by giving the team more autonomy and responsibility. It also means you let go of the detail and you’ll definitely need to do more of that as a manager.

Open communication: Aim to keep an open and transparent dialogue between you and your team. There will be, at times, information about the company you cannot share with the team immediately – information impacting the future direction of the company, confidential acquisitions and mergers in the pipeline etc.

As much as possible involve the team in decisions that affect them. Employees like to have a “voice” in the organisation. Be visible and approachable. Have regular one to one meetings to discuss what’s going well and any issues or concerns.

However; don’t just have the planned one to one meetings – keep the dialogue open.

Understanding the business direction in your first management role

first management role


As a manager you will be responsible for directing the team in alignment with the business strategy. You’ll be setting the objectives for each team member that cascades from this business strategy.

As a subject matter expert you’ll probably already have a good understanding of your sector. There are many external factors that impact businesses (Politics and economics, environmental changes, social and legal factors) and as a manager you’ll need to keep up to date and stay ahead of changes.

Regularly attend seminars and conferences relating to your industry to keep up to date with trends and gain valuable insights. Events of this nature are also great places to network.

In today’s modern world of work, you will be working with and managing several different generations and an ever diverse workforce. This all makes managing people a challenging and often complex responsibility today.

You may have a natural management style (collaborative, cooperative, coaching, directive, authoritative etc.); however there will be a very real need to be highly adaptable and flexible to the fast changing dynamics of the workplace.

Employees want respect, they want a voice, they want to be recognised and rewarded and they want flexible working and family friendly policies. Organisations need to be agile and highly flexible to the needs of their employees as well as their clients.

So their managers need to be role models that positively contribute to the company ethos, ethics and values.

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Personal development planning

Personal development planning (pdp) is essential in career advancement. Once you have gained a management role, you are likely to be responsible for creating and agreeing personal development plans for your team.