When you’re making the move to a leadership position for the first time, it can be a bit of a whirlwind of new expectations and emotions. We have some more top tips to help you make a smooth transition to your first management role!

Tips for getting comfortable with feedback:

Feedback is key to being a successful manager. You need to get comfortable seeking but also giving feedback – the reality of people leadership is that sometimes you must have tough conversations, which can be even harder when it’s your responsibility to instigate them and deal with any fallout.

Asking for regular feedback from your team is important for understanding how they’re coping as well as identifying any potential issues that may arise. You can do this at your regular catchups, at the end of a particular piece of work, or if you feel like something needs to be addressed. They don’t have to be formal affairs – save that for annual performance reviews.

Giving feedback on the other hand, can take some getting used to. If you’re worried about how the other person is going to receive your comments, choose the timing and setting carefully – consider having a chat with them at the end of the day so that they can go home to process and reflect on what you’ve talked about away from work. Always keep your feedback constructive and make sure you have specific examples if you want to talk about an adjustment in behaviour or process. And don’t forget to give good feedback too! Being told that you’re doing well in some areas makes it easier to digest the things that you need to improve on.

If you’re naturally conflict-avoidant, having difficult conversations with your staff can feel uncomfortable. However, letting things slide or leaving issues to simmer for too long can create bigger problems and even harder conversations later on. If you’re looking for more advice on how to navigate the not-so-fun side of being a manager, this is a great read on how to prepare for and handle difficult conversations at work.

One of the easiest things you can do as a people leader that’ll have the biggest impact on your team is simply saying thank you – whether it’s for nailing a key deliverable, going above and beyond or just for doing their thing – don’t forget to share the praise and celebrate the successes. Showing recognition for good work goes a long way.

Tips for learning from others:

We’ve all experienced good and bad management styles, so bring your own experience of what works and what doesn’t to your new leadership position. Having a mentor, especially when you’re starting out, can help take off some of the pressure of trying to figure this out on your own. A mentor can be someone you know, or there’re organisations that’re set up to connect you with experienced leadership coaches and mentors who can assist you too.

As a new leader, HR is your friend! If your organisation has an HR department or dedicated HR practitioner, utilise their skills and expertise. They can help you not only with best practice but also to understand specific entitlements and initiatives that your organisation has available to its staff. If you don’t have someone like that to draw on, Employment NZ is a good place to start to get your head around employee rights and regulations.

There’re also online communities for managers where you can share ideas and hear about others’ experiences. Support groups and advice forums for managers (both new and existing) can be found on Facebook, Reddit and even Tiktok – so while it can feel lonely at the top, it doesn’t have to be that way. Not to mention there’s something really comforting about knowing other people are having the same struggles or challenges as you ! Just remember to protect people’s privacy (and your own) if you’re engaging in online forums.

Tips for learning to delegate:

It seems so simple, but getting comfortable delegating doesn’t always come easy. Moving from being the one doing things to the one who delegates, letting go and trusting others to take over can be hard for first-time managers. There’re entire training courses dedicated to the art of delegation, so you’re certainly not alone in feeling daunted by asking others to do things for you.

Keep in mind that by delegating tasks, you’re giving other team members opportunities to get involved and develop their own skillsets. And with your added responsibility there’s not enough time in the day to do absolutely everything yourself while maintaining your sanity!

Of course, you should use your new powers wisely, make sure you’re delegating to people that have the necessary skills or capabilities to handle the task. Be clear about your expectations and timelines and be there to help answer any questions, but make sure you also step aside and let your team get on with it. Trade Me has some great advice on delegating effectively that’s aimed at those new to leadership.

Just like any new job, becoming a manager for the first time is an ongoing learning process. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you’re finding your feet, but don’t forget to back yourself either. Seeking support and advice from others is key because every single manager has gone through this experience at some point in their career. You’ve just made a really exciting step, it’s time to celebrate!

Best wishes,
Kirsty and Nikki

Knowing Your Worth – Salary expectations
Transitioning to a Leadership Role (Part One)