Congratulations! You have made a significant step in your career and you have begun taking your first steps into management. Nice job. You can look forward to having your own team; more responsibility and really impacting on the results of the business you work in.

It may be that as part of your new Manager role, you have to manage people who prior to your promotion have been your colleagues, your teammates, even your friends. Does that make you feel a little awkward? Are you wondering how you go about telling these people what to do? Does is make you anxious to think you might even have to reprimand them at some point. Fear not, you are in no way alone in this, almost every new manager goes through this phase and the point of this blog is to give you some direction.

Be authentic

The message is to be authentic but what does that mean?

“No one is expecting you to change who you are, just because your responsibilities have changed”


will-the-real-you-please-stand-up-kim-garstAuthentic means many different things including ‘undisputed credibility’ and ‘genuinely being who you are’. The cliché ‘actions speak louder than words’ can apply to authenticity as well and fits well with new managers. According to Kim Garst in her book ‘Will the Real You Please Stand Up‘ it is important to understand what authenticity isn’t too. She gives the example that some people start to act in a crass, crude and sometime offensive way in the name of ‘keeping it real’.

Let’s be clear you might need to wear a bit of mask sometimes, but no one is expecting you to change who you are, just because your responsibilities have changed. In many cases new managers start acting like a caricature of a manager in the belief that this will gain them respect, popularity and be taken seriously in their new role. The truth of the matter is that you can end up acting a bit like David Brent from The Office with the result being that people will distance themselves from you and more experienced managers will intervene, offering advice to you that basically translates as “what the hell is happening to you, stop acting like a tit!”

So be who you are, and remember who that is and that it played a part in getting you the management role. Your colleagues will and if you want them to work with you then don’t change yourself.

Start with the team

I have been working with a chap, we’ll call him Mark, who has just found himself in the role of manager to just one person, and we’ll call him Dan. They have worked together for ages, get on really well and are known as ‘the lads’ in the office. Mark has found himself starting to notice that when he is not around Dan makes mistakes on key month-end financial reports that he then has to clean up himself, which adds to his workload but he does it as it is easier than having to confront Dan. This is making him feel uncomfortable, as he doesn’t know how to deal with this.

Working with him I understand how this can feel and I asked Mark to talk to Dan not at his desk, but in a more formal environment. He should explain that it is best to talk in a separate room, as the information they deal with is financial and should be spoken about in a quiet room. In addition he should discuss the issues with Dan with a view to identifying what he really values in his role and about the importance of his work to the business.

“By starting to understand the people in the team and what is important to them you can still be yourself and be an authentic manager”


When Mark came back to me, he told me that Dan wanted to be recognised as an expert in his role as he was qualified and did not feel that he was being taken seriously. Mark said he felt that that was the best moment to highlight the mistakes and how he has to pick up the pieces. Dan didn’t realise he was doing this, or that it was eroding the credibility he seeked, so asked if Mark would be OK to ‘sense check’ some of reports before they were being submitted, so that the mistakes would be identified.

I asked Mark if he thought this was the best way forward and he thought it was. I suggested to Mark that ‘hand holding’ Dan through the reports each month might be a good idea to begin with, but how could he get Dan to own the reports so that when they were submitted he would be sure they were accurate? Mark took his time to answer this and thought that perhaps they could initially work on the report together first using an accurate one as a guideline and measurement tool, that way Dan would know what he was being measured against and could form his own success criteria.

Hey presto, three months down the line accuracy is no longer a problem. Of course Mark does give the report the once over, but his perspective is different. By starting to understand the people in the team and what is important to them you can still be yourself and be an authentic manager.

No place to hide

When you are in management role it is easy to think that some problems will just go away and sort themselves out. This is a fool’s errand and will just make you look weak. Think about the rules of what is known as Human Robotics.

  • When you see a behaviour you like, reward it. This will help this behaviour to continue
  • When you see a behaviour you don’t like, reprimand it. Nip it in the bud; this will stop it in its tracks
  • Timing is crucial, to both of these above points act quickly so that good behaviour doesn’t feel ignored, and that bad behaviour doesn’t fester and grow out of control

one minute manager ken BlanchardKen Blanchard wrote the famous One Minute Manager, arguably one of the best management books out there, and it only takes about an hour to read. Blanchard says that when you set a goal, reprimand or reward it should be done in no more than a one-minute period. It keeps things clean, it keeps things neat and it makes management easy. I recommend this book as it has stood the test of time and just makes perfect sense.

Moving forward and learning to delegate

When you find yourself in a new management role a good place to start is observation. Watch the way people work, interact and look at the processes in place. Take the time to evidence what is happening so that when you make any changes you can support them.

“Ensure you don’t end up doing your old job as well as your new job”


Ensure you don’t end up doing your old job as well as your new job, as you end up with one foot in the past and never quite move on. This is where it is important to learn good delegation skills using what I call the SMARTO technique.

Use this simple checklist to ensure that when delegating a task or project to someone that the criteria are robust. Keep in your mind that you can delegate the authority, but retain the responsibility.

Support – How much will you be able to offer? Hands on or hands off? Visible or Invisible? Contactable or out of touch? Be honest and manage the expectations of the person being delegated to.

Monitor – How will you monitor and keep track of progress? What mechanisms will you use, a report, a meeting perhaps?

Authority – How much are you giving away? Are you giving it all at once, or allocating more as things progress. What safety net is in place to allow you to pull back if necessary to stop things going off a cliff?

Resource availability – what tools are you offering to get things done, think about equipment, space, people, materials and, of course, capability.

Timescale – When has this got to be done by? It needs to be clear. Are you prepared to be flexible on the deadline? If so, have you built in ‘wiggle room’ if things change over time?

Objectives –  Are these clear? What actually needs to be achieved? What is the objective made up of? And what are the smaller subsidiary objectives or tasks that might need to be achieved, that contribute to the bigger objective? Clarity is vital.

The great thing about the SMARTO delegation tool is that it works equally well starting from Support or whether you work backwards from Objectives so it is nice and flexible.

Final thought

New managers need to make the transition from mate to manager quickly and the best places to start are in being authentic, and understand the basic rules of delegation so that conversations with teammates have proper meaning and richness without the need to come over all faux manager.

New managers get so hung up on their own behaviour in the role of the manager that they forget that one of the reasons they were promoted is due to their capability to do the job. The process and procedures that they work to should be implemented on a wider scale and it is this that creates the change, not the behaviour.

Change is good, especially procedural change that improves quality, time efficiency or customer care as examples. As Churchill said “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”. So implement changes at this level first, it makes things easier, then as time goes by change them again.

Enjoy your new role, you deserve the success now make it work for you, your team and your own manager.

simon-hares-serialtrainer7Simon Hares is a Bath-based supplier of training and learning and development. He has over twenty years’ experience in training people, whether one to one in a room with coffee, or in a group environment. 


Simon Hares