Practical Guide: 3 Tips For First Time People Manager

Congratulations! You are promoted to lead a team. A great achievement. A big responsibility. Bad managers are the number 1 reason for people to leave companies. Managing people is not easy. When I got into this position I had little to no idea. No training or guide. From my experience, here are some tips that would have helped me managing people for the first time.

  1. Come prepared and with a plan

Nothing beats preparation. First impressions are key. You want to make sure that you are starting off right. As a first step get to know the people in your team and make sure they are set up to do their work right.

Ideally before the first team meeting get a clear idea on how your team is structured. Who is doing what and what does success looks like? If existing, study the org structure. Read role profiles. Understand how your team contributes to the company’s vision. Learn as much as you can about the members of your team. Find out about their past achievements. Talk to HR or their previous manager to get a feel for potential strengths and watch outs. When you meet your team spend time to get to know them. Ask questions about their interests, listen, and show that you care about them and their personal life. If you have new people joining your team check that they have all materials and equipment to do their work right. Set up their desk, organise IT, office supplies, etc. Also, important to prepare an induction plan to bring new joiners up to speed and introduce them to the other departments. In short:

  • Get to know the people in your team, their roles, responsibilities and interests
  • Ensure your people have all resources, tools and equipment to do their job right
  1. Take time to set expectations early

Early on, clearly articulate what needs to be accomplished and why. Set expectations. Give your team the freedom to find their own way to achieve outcomes.

Be clear on your team’s purpose. Communicate it and show how your team’s job is important to achieve the company’s vision. You want people to understand the significance of their role. Reinforcing their purpose will give them context, focus and appreciation of the work they are doing. Next, take time to go over roles and responsibilities. Recap with each person what is in scope, what is expected and define the right outcomes. Ensure that all outcomes are measurable. This way outcomes can easily be tracked. And anyone can objectively decide if the outcome has been achieved or not. By defining the right outcomes you give people the freedom to find their own way to succeed. Everyone has different talents and a different style. Let your team do what they do best to achieve their targets. If you learn something yourself its worth more than being told how to do things. And it builds trust. The opposite approach is micromanagement. I had a manager who was constantly watching over my shoulder. Demotivating as it showed me that there was a) no trust and b) very limited chances to develop. Don’t be a micro-manager. Lastly, share your preferred ways of working and the rules of the game. Be true and authentic with your team. The more you share about your values and style the easier it will be for them to adjust to your preferences. To sum up:

  • Set clear expectations, define measurable outcomes and share your ways of working
  • Demonstrate how your team’s work is important in achieving the company’s vision
  • Give your team the opportunity to succeed based on their unique talents & strengths
  1. Track outcomes, and provide feedback

Once you have connected with your team and expectations are set, the day to day job kicks in. At this stage it’s essential that you are available to your team. Regularly provide direction, feedback and recognition.

Start by setting up a fixed meeting with the members of your team. Use these meetings to check in, review work, discuss what’s coming up, required outcomes, and deadlines. Involve your team in finding solutions. Give them the opportunity to make their opinions count. People are much more invested in their work if they are given the chance to actively contribute to it. From the start. Remember your job is not to come up with solutions for every problem. Rather use your team, their strengths and talents to solve challenges. Be disciplined with team meetings. Make time when support is needed. This will show that you value and respect your team. It promotes commitment to deliver quality work. Where available provide feedback, both positive and constructive. Recognise good work frequently and celebrate success. Let your team know why you value them. On the other hand, it might be hard to provide feedback when things are not going right. However if not done timely you are denying your team an opportunity to develop and establish a transparent and clear communication. To encourage your team’s progress also set some time apart to discuss their career aspirations and define progression plans. Don’t over-promise. Provide opportunities at work to learn and grow. Then, use your regular meetings to track how everyone is going against the plan. In a nutshell:

  • Set up regular meetings to ensure quality work and be available to support when needed
  • Recognise good work frequently and provide timely feedback when things are going wrong
  • Define progression plans and encourage the development of your people
  • Request your team to actively contribute and make their opinions count


In the end, each of us have a unique style in managing people but a few things hold true. Communicate with your team, set clear goals, manage expectations and give your team the freedom to grow and develop and you will be off to a good start.

Have more tips on people management? Please share.