How To Manage Your First Management Position


Management experience is a valuable asset, particularly if you’re looking for an entry level job.

Regardless of your area of expertise, a position as a manager indicates to prospective employers that you can be trusted with authority and are capable of maintaining a big-picture perspective while tending to particulars.

However, getting this experience can be a bumpy ride, particularly in the seasonal and part time positions where students and recent graduates usually achieve management roles.

You might find yourself in charge of people significantly older than you, or former co-workers who had their eyes on your job.

The following advice should help you stay afloat as you set sail in your management role.

Manage yourself

If you manage a group of individuals who already understand the full scope of their responsibilities (like a retail store, for example), you’ll be able to provide a minimal amount of direction, reducing the likelihood of tension or misunderstanding.

In a more collaborative workplace, you’ll need to provide oversight without interfering with group dynamics.

In either case, try and take a step back from your position of authority and allow employees to fill that space. Encourage as much communication and discussion as is appropriate. Any decisions that employees can make through group consensus should be left to their discretion.

Outline roles

Some workplaces assign duties informally, teaching each employee his or her responsibilities through word of mouth. This can lead to tension when unexpected tasks arise.

If possible, formalize existing responsibilities in writing as a group.

This practice will hopefully encourage open discussion and collaboration when the unexpected happens, as well as ensuring all employees are familiar with each other’s responsibilities.

It will also help ensure that no one can accuse you of sloughing unpleasant tasks onto one particular person you “don’t like.”

Reinforce the chain of command

Just as your staff answer to you, you’re accountable to a higher-up.

While you don’t want to undermine your authority, make sure that your employees are aware of your role as part of a chain of command.

Frame team objectives not only in terms of tasks; be sure to emphasize long-term goals as dictated to you from above.

Don’t be afraid to admit to your team when you’ll need to pass their questions up the chain. It’s better to be honest about the limits of your knowledge than risk moving outside your authority.

Cut the social stuff

If your staff are a sociable bunch, post-work gatherings can be a tightrope you have to cross.

People let off steam outside of work by saying things that they can’t say at work. You don’t want to overhear anything that might impact your ability to do your job professionally and above reproach.

At the same time, refusing to take any part in staff gatherings will make you seem unfriendly and aloof, and will impact on morale and communication at work.

Try and walk a fine middle ground. Attend social events infrequently and avoid joining impromptu plans. When you go, stay long enough to talk to everyone briefly. Be neither the life of the party nor a wet blanket. Leave quietly, not furtively.

Accept the inevitable

As with any endeavor, you won’t become a perfect manager overnight – it takes hard work.

Be prepared to make mistakes, despite your best efforts.

Accept that some people won’t like your decisions.

Push yourself to learn from this experience, but don’t expect it to be smooth sailing.

With a focus on these pointers, your first management position in a part time or entry level job can be the start of a lifelong learning process.