6 Essential Tips for a First-Time Manager

In the course of a summer, I went from never managing anyone to managing sixteen interns. I did not have any formal managerial training and learned many new skills over the course of that summer. Being a good manager is far different from being a good employee, because you are no longer responsible for only yourself. You are responsible for other people—for their career progress, their learning, and their success. You’re rarely taught how to be a good manager. I modeled my own managerial style on what I liked (or disliked) about my own managers, and came up with a style that has helped me manage multiple people in different jobs. Here are some tips for a first-time manager.

6 Essential Tips for a First-Time Manager

Here are my six essential tips for a first-time manager:

Set Expectations:

Come up with specific action-oriented goals that can be tracked and measured.

One way to do this is to create Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each person and the team that you manage. These should be aligned with the overarching goals of the organization.

Goals and expectations are a great motivator and a way to increase teamwork.

Be a Team Player:

When you are a manager, you become responsible for your entire team’s failure or success. You need to be focused on what you can do to help each member of your team be successful in his or her role.

Show that you are team-oriented by making time for team members, asking them how you can help, using words like “we” instead of “me,” and not taking credit for other people’s work. Additionally, show that you care about each person’s success and the success of the team as a whole.

You have more access to senior management and make it clear that you advocate for your team’s success.

Communication is Key:

Meet with each team member one-on-one at least once a week. Use this time to discuss deadlines, progress on projects and goals, challenges, and any successes they want to share. In order to set your team up for success, you need to communicate regularly and make it evident that you listen, provide advice, and care.

Give Feedback:

Regularly give both positive and negative feedback. Recognize and praise people’s accomplishments. It makes people feel good to know that you recognize and appreciate hard work, progress, and achievements.

One of the harder parts of being a manager is giving negative feedback. It’s difficult but it is essential and very valuable to the individual. People can’t improve, grow as a professional, or exceed at expectations if you don’t provide feedback, so get used to giving both positive and negative feedback frequently.

And say something when you notice it—not months later. If you wait until something snowballs into a bigger deal, it isn’t fair to your employee because they could have had months to improve and fix it had they only known there was a problem.

I once had someone tell me that nothing that comes up in an annual review should be a surprise. A good manager will frequently check in and provide feedback.

Learn to Delegate:

It’s crucial to delegate. If you hold on to too much of the work and micromanage people, you’ll end up making the project take far longer and you might even frustrate your team members. Plus, micromanaging them subtly implies that you don’t trust their quality of work.

You will empower people if you trust them to do good work. Check everything over and check in frequently, but trust people to do the job they were hired to do. Spend more of your time managing, coaching, and helping people do the best work possible, and less time micromanaging.

Lead By Example:

Lastly, set a good example and follow all of the same expectations you set for members of your team. People will look to you for guidance—even if they don’t explicitly ask for it—so it’s important to set a good example.

Whatever you do, embrace your new role and empower your team to be the best they can be!

This post is by me and it was originally published on Career Contessa. The photo is from Savor Home

25 Responses to 6 Essential Tips for a First-Time Manager

  1. I love this! I work best when I’m not being mircomanaged, so this post has been great! As an intern, I appreciate it when my supervisors realize I’m competent enough to do things on my own. These are great tips for managing any team really!

  2. These are great tips to remeber as a first-time manager! I think setting a good example for your interns/employees is key. People learn by example, so if you start off by showing people what is expected you will have a great team!


  3. These are some great tips! I went to college for stage management (theatre), and I found that a lot of these things are applicable in any field of management. I’ve heard that tidbit about the “nothing at the annual review should be a surprise” too. I feel like if something is going poorly, you should tell the person sooner rather than later, not at the end of the year!

  4. Alessandra says:

    Love these tips! It’s so important to give constructive feedback and to delegate when necessary. I used to micromanage when I was in university, but I ended up overwhelming everybody around me. Like you, I haven’t had any formal managerial training but these are some great pointers that I will take to heart.

    Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog

  5. Jenny says:

    This will definitely be a beneficial post for the future.
    I feel like it’s good to access what you did or didn’t like in previous managers and go from there on what kind of manager you want to be.

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  6. Alicia says:

    Communication is SO crucial! Letting your team know what your expectations are is the only way to succeed. This is an excellent post, I think every manager should read this!

    xo, Alicia | Alicia Tenise

  7. Meghan says:

    These are really great tips! I’m not a manager but whenever my manager does take time off I have to in turn manage her people and cover her tasks. These are definitely help tips to keep in mind and use for whenever she’s out of the office!

    Southern Belle Secrets

  8. This is a fantastic post! I wish my manager could read it. haha I am definitely pinning it for later reference. I’ve never managed anyone, but hope to do a good job if I ever do in the future.

  9. Jordyn says:

    This is such useful advice! I don’t manage anyone at this point, but I know this will be super helpful one day when I do. I know for me it has always been really helpful to have open communication with a manager.

  10. 16 interns?! You are a ROCKSTAR! These are such great pointers. I definitely agree that negative feedback is the hardest to give. I asked a summer intern to brainstorm with me, and when she had an amazing idea, I asked her to run with it. She ended up giving me information verbatim from Wikipedia. Definitely a learning experience! I love learning something new every time that I visit your blog 🙂

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  11. Allison says:

    How nerve-wracking to be thrown into managing so many people! I love your tips!

  12. Annaliese says:

    This is such an interesting blog post! At the store that I work at, we got a new manager this summer. She and my old manager were both good, but have VERY different styles of doing things, so it has been interesting!! I wonder if I will ever be in a management position someday.

    Props to you for managing 16 interns!!

    xoxo A

  13. I just took a management course and this is what the recommended. I think setting measurable expectations is really important. Perceived traits don’t create enough structure to allow employees to thrive.

  14. I just took a management course and this is what the recommended. I think setting measurable expectations is really important. Perceived traits don’t create enough structure to allow employees to thrive.

  15. Hannah says:

    That is crazy that you are managing 16 interns!!! I do not know if I could EVER do that!! Props to you girl!

  16. Tiffani says:

    I think learning to delegate and lead by example are the two biggest ones for me. I used to be the worst at delegating out rations of the work, I would have rather just done all the work to ensure it was all getting done the way it needed to be. Once I began rationing out assignments to other team members, my work load became more manageable and created a less stressful environment. These are all awesome tips!


  17. This is all such great advice! I think knowing how to delegate is so important. I know I personally have trouble with delegating, and I often pile too much on my plate because I think I can do it better. Sometimes, I need to just step back and have faith in people, and I think doing that is a big part of being a manager.

  18. Ashley says:

    Great advice, girl! I’ve never been in a manager position, and admire those who take on this sometimes daunting task! I can’t believe you manage 16 interns! You are a rockstar!

    xo Ashley

  19. Kayla says:

    These tips are great! I would love for you to be my manager, haha! I’m an intern right now and I know that managing 16 of us is no easy task. You go, girl!

    Kayla | kaylablogs.com

  20. Lauren says:

    These are all great tips! I’m kind of the manager of where I am now but I only have one person under me… I was a manager before and sometimes it was hard for me to delegate because I wanted to do everything my own way!

    The Fashionista’s Diary

  21. Annie says:

    Wow this is amazing!! Right now I am an intern and I feel like I can learn a lot form this as well because it made me realize what my boss is going through and how I can be a better intern.

    Annie // Annie N Belle

  22. Marie H. says:

    These are all seriously amazing tips! I definitely work better when I am not being micromanaged. I feel like it completely ends up ruining the moral and positive attitude of the team.

    GREAT article! I am definitely bookmarking for later reference.

    Marie H.
    Progression By Design

  23. Amanda Cross says:

    These are all very good tips, and I think that these tips are also very important. The style of managing you have can make or break someone’s entire job/career experience so it’s definitely important to have a style that resonates with the people you manage.

  24. Cat says:

    These are such great tips! Congrats on handling the experience well, and thanks for sharing.

  25. These are some absolutely amazing tips! As someone who has worked as the leader of somewhat large groups, I never really knew how to give any feedback (if at all)!

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