Contact one of our experts

7 Tips for Success When Commencing as a People Manager

tms_7_tips_when_commencing_as_a_people_managerYou’ve got that long awaited promotion, or a management job in a new organisation … it’s a great opportunity and it involves managing and leading people! So how do you proactively start your leadership journey with the new team and what organisational initiatives are in place to support your success? In this article, we will provide 7 tips for success when commencing as a people manager.

A recent survey of Leadership at Work identified that our “Australian workplace leaders are aging, with over half of senior leaders in multi-site organisations aged over 55”(p28), hinting that succession planning and the development of leadership skills will be a clear focus for the near future. Skill gaps in leadership are emerging as younger employees need to rapidly learn and take the place of exiting leaders. The survey also identified that “A significant minority of Australian workplaces are not providing training which poses risks for future performance.” (P62.)

What can we do to help train new managers?

In light of these findings, a proactive focus on building the management and leadership capabilities of upcoming, or newly appointed people managers will surely be a positive investment.

In the transition to a workplace that is proactively providing leadership development and thorough inductions for new people managers, there are some key questions to ask yourself:

  1. What can you do individually, in the early days, to establish positive high performing team behaviours?
  2. What does the organisation do more broadly to assist in the transition to leading and managing people, and how can you access help?
  3. What leadership development and management support, if not provided by your workplace, exists external to the organisation?

TMS’s experience with facilitating Talent Development Programs, Leadership Development Programs and Coaching has provided us with key insights into effective leader development and management of high performing teams and it is from this basis that we provide the below tips.

7 Tips to Becoming a Successful Manager

Whether starting in a managerial job in a new organisation, or transitioning to management, these tips will position you and your number one asset, your people, for success.

1. The Role of Learning – make learning a personal mission

Acknowledge your own learning curve and actively identify opportunities for understanding your new position within the organisation. This includes, the organisational growth strategy and pathways to achieve this.

Seek out the tools, resources and development opportunities that exist inside the organisation. If you identify a requirement not provided, seek it anyway.

In addition to the more formal learning opportunities that may exist, pursue and accept feedback as a learning insight, synthesise this information and find your own unique way to lead.

2. Balance Task and People Focus

Balance your focus between the tangible operational tasks and the intangible harder to measure people-associated aspects of the role. Some may say that this is aligned with having both management (resource allocation) and leadership (human relationship management) aspects of the role as a focus in equal measure.

Apply Tip 1. to your people. Learn about them, what makes them tick, what they enjoy doing the most in the workplace, and how to best utilise their strengths. Most importantly learn what can be done to grow them in line with their own interests and the objectives of the team and organisation.

tms_new_people_managers_test_assumptions_clarify_expectations3. Test Assumptions and Clarify Expectations

Use your new position to ask the curious questions to test your own assumptions. This applies to operations, people and organisational culture related assumptions.

Most new managers make a range of assumptions about what employees need from them when they start. They also assume that employees are clear on what is expected of them. The best advice is … don’t assume, talk to your employees and make sure you align on expectations! Clearly identify and be able to articulate what it is that you need from your people to realise the team’s collective performance requirements. This includes the relational interactions that need to be in place with the individuals within your team. Set up one-on-one commencement interviews with your staff. There are two aspects of this clarification conversation:

  • Ask employees what they need from you as their manager to be their best
  • Set up a mutual exchange by overtly stating “As your Manager this is what I expect of you in order for us to succeed”.

We recommend that any new manager has this overt conversation at the beginning of the relationship. It’s also worth regularly scheduled ‘check ins’ on how these aspects evolve as the relationships mature.

4. Listening and Recognising Employee Expertise – utilising the art of questioning

When you take on the role of managing an existing team it is important to recognise what has been working well and what is not working so well. Also from the team’s perspective, how could things be done differently? Requesting this information from your people will help acknowledge achievement and the contribution that existing employees have provided to date, what to take forward and intel on how to transition the team for continual improvement. This could be the second step in your commencement interviews or could be done collectively at a team meeting to get a sense of the current state and actions to progress.

tms_new_people_managers_managing_up5. Managing Up

Apply the same curiosity to your relationship with your own boss in regard to clearly defining expectations, including how best to work together. Asking these questions overtly at the start decreases the chance of confusion down the track. Ensure your team priorities align and are clearly linked to your managers. Ask what success will look like at certain timeframes to guide expectations. Determine how to structure meetings and regular reporting requirements and how best to work together in general. You can make your lead look good by leading your team to achieve goals that assist your manager. Figure out what that looks like up front and check in on progress regularly.

6. Get a Mentor and/or a Coach

Even with the previous tips put into place the role of managing people is likely to provide situations that aren’t outlined in any manual, or at least not the manual you can put your finger on in a timely manner. The good news is that someone else has probably already dealt with your situation before. So benefit in finding a trusted mentor, someone with whom you can confidentially discuss issues with as they arise.

Another opportunity for ongoing and contextualised professional development is to get yourself a coach to bounce your ideas, goals and actions around with.

In addition, creating a peer network by attending professional development opportunities is also worth considering.

7. Role Model & Follow Through

Do what you say you are going to do when you committed to do it. If this is not possible, give your team an update on the commitment so they are aware of its status. This applies to both people focused and task focused activities. It is also especially important to take care of yourself and ensure you set up norms that are sustainable in regard to your own health and wellbeing. This will benefit both yourself and your team as they observe their leader having parallel priorities in regard to self-care and achieving performance outcomes.

tms_new_people_managers_next_stepsTaking the next steps

Remember to seek the answer to the following:

What organisational supports does your business provide to newly appointed People Managers to ensure they develop the capabilities to effectively lead others?

Action these tips, seek out and actively pursue what is available within the organisation, take it on yourself to proactively establish your high performing team and search for appropriate external development opportunities that will guide your people management for sustainable success.

TMS Consulting – who we are and what we do

TMS Consulting works with organisations to realise their potential through their people. Stepping up to management and building the required leadership capability is an activity we support many client organisations with. The design of programs aimed specifically at developing the balance of management and leadership capability required of new people managers is an area often neglected. This can have detrimental impact on employee engagement and ultimately team and organisational performance.

TMS Consulting can be contacted on phone (07) 3003 1473 or email –

Leadership at Work – Do Australians leaders have what it takes? Study of Australian Leadership, University of Melbourne, Centre for Workplace Leadership. 13/10/2016.

About the author

TMS Consulting