Thrive as a First-Time Manager from Day One

Being a manager for the first time can be quite an experience. So many emotions can come into play: nervousness, excitement, and positivity. You’ll probably cycle through several of them over the course of that first day. It’s typical to feel that way. Moving into a management position is a big deal. It shows you earned a promotion based off the efforts and hard work you put forth, and that is awesome. Being a manager is a huge perk, but there are also some issues you may deal with when becoming a first-time manager.

first-time manager

Be prepared for other employees to act upset. This may, or may not happen. But, if there were multiple employees hoping for that promotion, they may have hurt feelings that they didn’t get it and deflect that your way.

Understand the need to separate yourself when necessary. Now that you are management, there is a good chance you may be managing several of your co-worker friends. You are there to manage for the best interest of the company. Bottom line.

Be trainable. Being a first-time manager, there is so much to learn! Ask for help or see if your company offers some type of program where you can shadow another manager. Be a sponge and soak up all the information you can during your first few months in the position.

Learn from constructive criticism. You aren’t going to know everything right out of the gate. Be open to feedback and constructive criticism from management above you. They are wanting to shape you and help you be the best manager possible. Using the information they provide can help that happen!

According to, there are eight essential tips to survive and thrive as a first-time manager from day one:

  • Know the business inside and out. Ask lots of questions and spend time with senior leaders to understand why particular decisions are made and reasons behind strategic moves so that you can provide clear direction for your team and make informed decisions that address the company’s broader landscape from employee culture and human resources to strategy.
  • Prioritize one-on-ones with direct reports. Make sure that one-on-ones are happening consistently and regularly to keep an eye on team members’ individual priorities, questions, and concerns. This individual time is critical towards their career development, as well as your entire team’s success.
  • Don’t abandon the trenches. Don’t wash your hands of the “dirty work” that helped you receive your promotion. Watch for opportunities to help and seize them. Your direct reports will respect that you are willing to do what it takes to help the company succeed.
  • Be the example. Be exceptionally conscious of your emotions and reactions. You need to slow down and process to develop informed decisions and input to lead admirably.
  • Don’t forget to delegate. It’s natural to want to be actively involved in everything your team is doing. But, you can’t be everywhere and do everything all at once. You need to be able to actively rely on team members to carry the weight. Be sure to emphasize how important stepping up and leading is for your team members personally to instill a greater feeling of ownership toward optimal outcomes.
  • Choose a mentor. Find someone you’re comfortable going to with questions and asking for support. This should be someone who is succeeding at being the type of manager you want to be with experience handling a wide-range of situations so that you can evaluate the pros and cons of different approaches.
  • Consistency is key. Slow down and take your time before making decisions to avoid flip-flopping or making emotional judgement calls. Use outlets to help you think through situations, such as taking walks or stepping away after you write emails before you send them.
  • Recognize relationship dynamics are different. You need to recognize and be transparent about the fact that relationships with your former peers have changed. Don’t allow personal relationships to interfere with business decisions. Set clear behavioral guidelines and discuss how things have changed straight out the gate so that there is no confusion.

Stay grounded when becoming a manager for the first time. It can be a huge time in the start of your career. Just know that you have the tools and the ability to shine as a first-time manager. Ask for help and ask for training. A Ken Blanchard Companies’ study revealed that out of more than 500 managers surveyed, only 15 percent of new managers stated they had been given any training to help them succeed on the job. In turn, 49 percent of the managers surveyed felt unprepared to succeed in the role. Don’t fall into this statistic. Make your first time being a manager, a time to shine.

Keep in mind that you were chosen to be a manager because you showed your hard work and dedication to the company. Keep that same work ethic going into your new management role, and continue to train other employees to do the same. With a positive attitude and a mind-frame to succeed, you will have the tools you need to be a successful first-time manager.

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