6 Tips for First-time Managers

18 Mar ‘24
7 min
Work performance
Editorial Board OpenUp
Reviewed by psychologist Eva Rüger
suddenly a manager

Anybody who becomes a first-time manager or team lead faces an exciting, yet somewhat nerve-wracking new challenge. You don’t become a good manager overnight: it takes time and practice. The learning process is often accompanied by feelings of doubt or uncertainty. In this article, we will focus on the challenges you will experience as a first-time manager and provide you with practical tips on transitioning into your new role. 


What challenges do first-time managers experience?


Becoming a manager is a rewarding experience. You learn about yourself and others whilst gaining more responsibility and career progression. However, with this new responsibility comes a new set of challenges. 


It can be particularly stressful at the beginning when major changes take place. As a first-time manager you have to handle shifting relationships,  additional responsibilities, more stakeholders and other company politics, and learning to delegate tasks.



 We often see first-time managers encountering the following mental well-being challenges:


• Feelings of insecurity:  You may feel insecurity about your qualities as a manager, which can even develop into “imposter syndrome“: the feeling that you’re underqualified for your role.


Isolation: Because your relationships with your team have changed, you may feel isolated. It can take time to develop new relationships with your team. 


Stress: Big changes require a lot of brain power and energy. For many people, big changes are also stressful.


Overwhelm: Managers have to keep juggling multiple projects. This means you may feel overworked and exhausted.


How can you tackle the challenges of being a first-time manager?


Below, OpenUp psychologist Eva Rüger sheds light on practical tips that can help you navigate the challenges that come with your new role:


1. Keep communicating


Don’t be afraid to share potential challenges you might face as a new manager. Remember, encountering obstacles isn’t a sign of failure but an opportunity for growth. Take the initiative to express your needs and concerns to your team, outlining what support you require to excel in your new role.

Ensure you schedule regular check-in meetings in advance. This gives you time to reflect on any challenges you’ve encountered or areas where you need assistance. Start with frequent meetings, such as weekly, to provide ample support during your transition. As you grow more confident in your role, you can adjust the frequency of these discussions accordingly.



 2. Be open to learn more


Sign yourself up for (external) training sessions where you can discover and enhance your leadership skills. These courses are invaluable for equipping you with the tools to develop your effective leadership style. Don’t overlook additional training opportunities in areas like stress management, time management, and effective communication—they’ll further bolster your capabilities as a manager.




3. Work on your resilience


Building mental resilience is crucial for navigating the everyday challenges of managerial roles. OpenUp can provide you with various strategies to enhance your mental resilience. Think of it as a toolbox encompassing resources like mindfulness practices, specialised masterclasses, and group sessions focused on addressing stress, boosting self-confidence, and fostering strong relationships. Consider it your go-to resource whenever you encounter obstacles in your professional journey.



4. Establish healthy boundaries


While you have a responsibility to help your team with their mental well-being,  you mustn’t overlook yours in the process. The urge to prove yourself can sometimes overshadow your mental well-being.

Focus on establishing boundaries, taking regular breaks, avoiding working during evenings and weekends, and making time for self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. By prioritising your well-being, you’ll be better equipped to support your team effectively and lead with clarity and resilience.


💡 Learn more in this article: How Can You Get Better at Setting Boundaries? 5 Tips



5. Build good relationships


Just like everyone in the workplace, managers also need someone to turn to. You could establish this by enquiring if there’s an internal buddy scheme or mentorship programme at your workplace and if not – why not initiate it? Also focus on getting to know your team members more personally, which extends beyond work-related conversation. 




6. Acknowledge that making mistakes is part of the process


Making mistakes is human. And as a new manager, you inevitably are going to make mistakes. Normalise failing – and learn from these failures.


That way you will also be a role model for your team and you can make it clear that it’s okay for people to not get things perfect right away; that it’s okay not to know everything, to feel overwhelmed, and that it’s important to seek support with these challenges. 



Keen to discover more resources specifically for managers? 👉🏼 Check out our self-guided courses and learn at your own pace.



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Work performance
The Psychology of Performance
Wed 05 Jun 13:45 - 14:30 Europe/Amsterdam
Spots available · Masterclass

Stability isn’t just about staying calm during a storm; it’s about thriving amidst chaos and making level-headed decisions without succumbing to panic. It’s about maintaining focus and persistence even when faced with setbacks.

Dr. Jérôme Gijselaers, with a master’s in neuropsychology and a PhD in biopsychology and educational sciences, brings over eight years of research expertise in biological lifestyle factors. In this masterclass he will explore the 15 ‘commandments’ to improve your stability and your performance.

In this session you will learn:

  • – Why attention, habits, and your core determine your performance;
  • – What you need to do to have more focus, better routines, and become more aligned with your goals
  • – How to improve your personal performance


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