First-time people managers are typically part-time managers with a full-time job. It is a struggle to be a good manager while continuing to be a good [your original job profile]. You have little energy to think about what it means to actually support people.

This is a short list of principles that I developed over time and benefitted from. It might help you find a few shortcuts along your own journey too.

  1. People management is about relationships. Focus on supporting people to be their best. Help where you can, acknowledge when you cannot, and learn from each other. Drop the pressure of trying to be a step ahead of everything and everyone.
  2. Your most powerful tool is providing feedback often and quickly. When things go wrong, communicate plainly and focus on making progress. Do not dull constructive feedback but always celebrate the smallest of successes. This is how you build trust.
  3. As a first-time people manager, you are already a creative multi-tasker. Believing management has no creativity is a pitfall. Like with everything else you are good at, create space for your ideas to develop and give yourself time.
  4. One-on-one meetings are for nuance and understanding. Team meetings are for reinforcement and culture building. Stay relevant by always asking questions.
  5. Understanding your people is more important than creating and conforming to processes. Processes are tools to manage the flow of information, not people. Measure your success by enabling each individual to do their best, in their own way, for the business.
  6. Be honest and cut the fluff. Acknowledge when you are wrong and show how you are improving yourself. Admit when you do not have answers. Ask for help when you need it. Demonstrate by action, reinforce by saying it. Be deliberate. State the obvious.
  7. Life events will throw up challenges. Show care by being visible and listen first. You cannot solve all their problems, but you can show care.
  8. In time, develop your own principles inspired by the person you want to become. You will not have to work to be authentic. You just will be.
Thanks to Caterina Bellinetti and Michael Heins. Image by Kevin Doncaster (CC BY 2.0).