Six top tips for first time managers

Harvard Business School defines a manager as someone who “gets results through other people”. Leading management consultant Peter Drucker once said that the greatest managers and leaders gain more power by empowering others, while the Institute of Management asserts that a manager is someone who “plans, leads, organises, delegates, controls, evaluates and budgets in order to achieve an outcome”. It’s a bit of a mouthful but we can go along with that.

Whatever your own personal definition, becoming a manager for the first time introduces you to a whole new way of working. Now you will take on a multitude of different roles that will see you become the teacher, counsellor, motivator, leader, defender, chief negotiator from the top down to bottom up, chief choreographer and head of a team that you didn’t choose and may not like. It’s time to learn the new rules of working – fast.

In today’s no-room-for-error workplace, new managers throughout the care and education sectors are under pressure to hit the ground running. Here are six practical hints and tips to help you get off to the best possible start in your new role as a manager.

  1. Set your boundaries:

Identify a handful of rules that are important and can have a positive impact on the overall performance of your team and the organisation, making everyone aware that these apply to all staff. So set your stall out early and stand firm – you’ll send out the message that you are a strong and in-control manager.

  1. Win over the cynics:

Left unchecked, cynics can sap your resolve. Some people may resent you for being promoted instead of them, especially if they have been working there longer than you. Whatever the cause for complaint, challenge those who complain to offer a solution or consider an alternative perspective. In doing so, you shift the focus from it being negative to problem solving.

  1. Give them the freedom to do what you want:

Effective management is a two-way relationship between you and your team based on trust and mutual respect. Although you must remain in charge, you also need to demonstrate that you have faith in your people – your success as a manager depends on their ability to seize the initiative, solve problems and achieve results.

  1. Delegate as often as possible:

You may be great at your job, but you can’t be expected to do everything yourself. Great managers are those who share the load to get things done – overload yourself and you become an unproductive manager. So focus on your own strengths, excel at them and delegate the rest to the right people in your team. In doing so, you improve your efficiency and encourage buy-in from your team.

  1. Make decisions, even if they become the wrong decisions to make:

To be an effective manager means having the confidence and courage to make decisions – even if you sometimes get it wrong. Just like chess, decision-making revolves around gathering the facts, considering all options, seeking advice and then taking a decision doing it. As David Mahoney, one of the most prolific CEO’s of the twentieth century said: “You’ll never have all the information you need to make a decision. If you did, it would be a foregone conclusion, not a decision.”

  1. Give credit – lots of credit – when it’s due:

Being rewarded and recognised for a job well done is a key driver for greater staff motivation. When a member of staff sees that you support and acknowledge their efforts, they will invariable become more motivated to work for you and follow your directives. So celebrate their successes, no matter how small they may appear in the grand scheme of things.


The transition from being responsible for yourself to managing others is a career defining moment that will challenge and test you more than at any other stage in your career to date. You will be expected to learn a plethora of new skills that you may never have used until now, but you will master them eventually – over time.

By getting the basics right and following the tips above, your chances of managerial success will be higher and when the next round of promotions come around, no one will be surprised when it is you who gets the nod. Least of all you.