How to Get Started as a New Manager

New manager

Congratulations on your promotion, by the way. As a new manager, you’re probably jazzed about the raise, the fancy new job title, and having an extra bit of authority within the organization. Considering your awesome work ethic, extensive experience, and great attitude, you earned it!

But what do you do now? Transitioning from individual contributor to manager isn’t easy for everyone. To help you out, I spoke with a few new managers and an executive coach to get their top tips for first-time managers.

1. Get to Know Your Team

If it isn’t obvious already, the existing working or personal relationships you already have with your team will change. Not for the worse, though. You’ll just need to get to know them in a new way.

For example, one of your responsibilities as a new manager is helping the people on your team meet their individual career goals. While you’ve probably never had this discussion before, you should plan to have it as soon as possible. You’ll want to make sure you understand what each person is hoping to achieve, what they want out of their position, and how you can support them along the way.

I spoke with Deirdre Walsh, senior social media manager for Jive Software, about her experience as a first-time manager. Deirdre started managing a team of two in November 2011 and immediately focused on trying to understand her team and their career goals. She says, “If you start by understanding the career goals and plans for each person, it will help you make better decisions that will benefit the company and the individual.”

2. See Your Work in a New Way

When you were an individual contributor, you had the opportunity to show off your work through projects, presentations and exceeding sales quotas, for example.

Now, as a manager, you don’t have the same opportunities because you spend most of your time in meetings with other managers and discussions with your team. The reality is you have much less time to work on the same types of projects as individual contributors, and your work is less visible to your colleagues and supervisors.

“At first you may feel like you’re not getting tons of tangible things done,” says Andria Elliott, a marketing communications specialist at National Instruments. “All your work now shows through a team of people instead of your individual self.”

This shift can be challenging, but if you focus on your team you’ll eventually learn to see the fruits of your labor. Elliott adds, “You learn to work through others, offer guidance and give direction, while finding the right balance between people management and driving your own projects for the business.”

3. Learn How to Listen Hard

If you learn anything as a new manager, it’s how to listen to your employees. Knowing how to listen to your team, and how to restrain from trying to be the only one with the right answer, will help you build credibility with your team and hopefully understand their concerns at their level.

“There’s so much power in an individual feeling like they’re being heard by management,” says Cheryl McMillan, an executive coach for Vistage International. “Employees can accept a lot, like a decision they may not agree with, because they feel like they were heard.”

4. Know You’ll Get Better at It

Don’t be surprised if you aren’t good at management in the beginning. Just because you were a star performer with great experience and people skills doesn’t mean you’ll know how to actually manage a team of people at the start.

The reality is that new managers are new hires too, and they need developmental training just like anyone else in an organization.

“Some people can be good at it right away,” adds McMillan. “But there’s a big misconception that people can do this stuff naturally. Management is really a science and an art. People need basic knowledge first and then practice.”

5. Get Some Training

Before you actually seek out training, figure out what your strengths are and what you need to focus on improving within your new role. Building a solid plan with development goals and consistent performance reviews with your supervisor will help you assess your progress during your first few months as manager.

What’s your biggest piece of advice for/as a new manager?

Photo by photostock.

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Jennifer King is an HR Analyst Software Advice, an online resource for reviewing and comparing human resources software. She writes about various topics related to HR software, and with particular interest in HR best practices, trends in the industry, and employee evaluation software. She happily lives and breathes in Austin, Texas.


  1. Steve Prothero on the 2nd April

    You have raised good advice. The only thing that I would add is about how to ensure you are clear in delegation (once you get to know your team members). Delegate to build capability – not to buck pass “tasks”. The other key issue is about getting a strong one to one processes in place so you really understand your team and they get to see you and able to build trust. Also be clear on who is your team – your direct reports and not your reports reports.

  2. Jennifer on the 2nd April

    Hi Steve. Thanks for adding those tips. I especially agree with the one about regular 1-on-1 time with your team. Also a great opportunity to build good rapport and trust, as you said, with them.

  3. Benchawan on the 20th April

    “How to Get Started as a New Manager ”
    I think this topic is very interesting and important . According author the way for start to be manager is not easy but not too hard but have to
    1 Get to Know our Team
    learn and know our employee or our team aim what they need . if we know their goal we can control them and it is easy to work with person who willing to work with us not just work for money only . then our team will easy to success . because we understand each other and don’t have any problem .
    2 See our Work in a New Way .
    some time we have to think or look the other side of work or the way to work because maybe it is better if we try to do it in difference way . we can understand more or get more knowledge .
    3 Learn How to Listen Hard
    Not just listen only but have to try to understand our team and try to help them or fix problem for them .
    4 Know You’ll Get Better at It
    Don’t worry too much if at first we can not be good manager . because it take time for learn how to do it or manage many thing we need to learn step by step no need to hurry much .
    5 Get Some Training
    before we become manager need to get some training and find out what is our strength and weakness then when we know it we can develop or try to cut it out .

    I agree with this author . I think the way she suggest is so good . if we follow these step we can be good manager .

  4. Naomi on the 23rd May

    Great article, Jennifer. I will be putting these tips to use.

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