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How to flourish in your first management role

New managers are often faced with challenging responsibilities, but little guidance on how to approach them.


Being in charge of a team of people who look to you for guidance and inspiration requires different skills from the ones you’ve developed so far. Let’s take a look at three areas you’ll need to conquer in your first management role.


These topics will be covered in greater depth in a webinar by leadership expert Nigel Girling, which you can sign up to and find out more about here.


Performance management


You probably had to work towards a set of objectives in your previous role, and perhaps were able to set some of your own. But while you’ll have some pre-defined goals as a manager, you’re now responsible for deciding on the specific objectives that are going to contribute to achieving these, and in relation to a number of different people.


Make sure you set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) objectives that team members can reasonably be held to. Setting vague expectations provides a lack of direction and motivation, and leaves everyone feeling like little is being achieved.


Also remember that the best way to motivate people to meet objectives is to agree, not impose, them. Your team members must fully understand what is expected of them, and feel that they are capable of delivering. If they don’t, there is a gap that needs to be bridged between your expectations, and the capabilities or engagement levels of your team members.


As well as being in charge of the performance of others, you now have to take more responsibility for your own actions and achievements than ever before. Make time to regularly review your performance against expectations, and identify areas for development.


Support and development


Just as you expect to be supported to achieve your best, so does each of your new team members. It’s not a case of ‘one size fits all’, and each person will have their own set of skills, needs, and other factors that affect the way they work.


In light of the objectives you have set, consider whether forms of development such as coaching, mentoring, or formal qualifications would be useful in building capability and engagement. It may even be a matter of simply being there to spend time with and listen to each team member.


To make sure team members are developing in the right direction, think about what kinds of reviews or appraisals you will have, and how often. This can be done very differently depending on organisational policy, culture, and industry, and on the specific roles and responsibilities within your team. You should generally plan to spend more time with those who are able to develop further, and less with those who have reached their potential.




When you manage a team, messages need to be conveyed at different times and in different ways. Therefore, a strategy for effective communication is hugely helpful.


When working out exactly how to communicate with your team, think about your communication objectives. Do you need to provide short daily reminders? Large amounts of feedback? Vision and inspiration? Perhaps all of these and more?


It wouldn’t be effective to try to meet every communication objective through a single format, such as email or face-to-face meetings. Avoiding email and trying to say everything face-to-face is likely to be overly distracting for team members. On the other hand, neglecting verbal communication could mean missing out on opportunities to motivate and boost morale. There are certain features of face-to-face communication, such as tone of voice and body language, that just can’t be replicated through writing.


Find out more about Nigel’s webinar here. You can choose to receive a recording afterwards instead of attending live.


Babington Group

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