Being a first time manager is exciting, challenging and if one’s self-leadership isn’t in check it can be lonely. Here are a few tips to be a successful first time middle manager.



Feedback, both positive and constructive, can be quite tokenistic and unhelpful if it is not specific, timely, and directed towards desired positive behaviourRegular feedback avoids nasty surprises at appraisal time. Want to learn more about feedback, click here

Interviews for Recruitment

At some point you will need to recruit staff, and while the HR department or a recruitment agency may assist, it’s imperative that you recruit the right person, into the right job, at the right time, and for the right price. Avoid being rushed or ‘panicked’ into recruiting anyone with a pulse. Take a little longer to get the right person: it’ll save you time, stress and money in the long run.

Responsible Role Model

Remember that you are in a situation of accountability. You have staff reporting to you, looking to you for guidance, watching what you do as a guide. You are a role model!


Super Vision. As a manager your role is multifaceted: you have to help, guide and supervise your team; plus complete your own tasks; plus make sure activities are focused toward achievement of the company goals; plus assist in articulating the vision, including how it is operationalized. It takes super vision to do all this; you’ve got this!

Team Building

Knowing each of your team members better will result in a better understanding of how each of them approach their respective roles: their strengths, their interests, their development needs. Team building can make a huge positive impact on team morale, which means a positive impact on productivity. Be mindful that team building is not the same as a fun team day activity.

Time Management

Do you know what really wastes your time?  

Do you know what wastes your team’s time? 

Find out, you may be surprised.  

Understanding and then getting rid of the time wasting activities will always help boost productivity. Want to learn more about being productivity, click here.

Ideas and Innovation

Ideas and innovation can come from any level of the organisation. Be sure that you are not the one standing in the way of ideas that save money, save time … or even make money! Do you know how risk adverse you are?


What motivates you will not necessarily be the same as what motivates your colleagues, your direct reports or your senior leaders. Remember everyone has his or her own motivators and reasons for working. Take time to understand your team members motivators, it will help you to be a great leader, to be engaged and supportive.


When giving feedback (see F) there is a simple formula that can help make sure the feedback is useful and results oriented. By being specific with the feedback and providing an example of the behaviour this will help make the link for the team member between their performance and issue. To help move towards change, it’s important to explain the effect of the behaviour, whether it is the effect on others, on resources, on timelines. To secure the change, a coaching approach will engage the employee in the process. Finish the conversation by securing a commitment. Want to learn more about feedback, click here


All successful people will openly admit their success is due, in part, to having mentors. Do you have a mentor to support, guide and advise you? You can have a mentor for a specific skill, a career progression or industry awareness. Your mentor also can be anyone who you see as having had the experience and wisdom you’re chasing. 


Self-leadership includes self-awareness. The better you understand yourself the more equipped you are to adapt to a wider range of situations. When you focus on improving your self-leadership you’ll find you are more resilient, confident and productive.


Sometimes it is just seems easier and quicker to say “no” to a team member’s request. It may be because we instantly assume a huge range of extra work required to fulfill that request. Be careful, you may be saying “no” to a solution, an innovation, a profitable idea!

Boundaries are also incredibly important: if you say “yes” too often you will end out having too much on your plate. Being able to say “no” is a sign of self-respect and respecting others. Word choice is important, consider, “not me’ or “not now” alternatives.


Being assertive is about respecting your needs as well as respecting the needs of others. It is not giving in and it is not winning at all costs. It is being honestopen and confident (without being over confident). Maintaining assertiveness, even when handling difficult situations, means aiming for a win:win outcome while maintaining the relationship.

Give Answers Last (not first)

If you find your time being consumed by always answering questions and giving advice, having staff come to you all the time for small issues you believe they could sort out themselves, then maybe you have, inadvertently, set up a dependency. Having a open-door to your team can feel like the right thing to do, however that doesn’t mean you have to carry all their burdens. Answer their questions with questions, such as:

  • What do you think needs to be done?;
  • What thoughts do you have about this?;
  • Who has done this or similar before?


Many complaints around workplaces are based on people not knowing what is expected of them. This is an issue of communication. Be sure your team stay on track, do the right work they are meant to do because you’ve set clear expectations.


You know ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, so don’t expect to know, be and do perfect leadership first day on the job. Give yourself a chance to learn, to receive constructive feedback and grow into the role. Breathe!

I’d love to know your thoughts …