4 Tips to Thrive as a First-Time Manager

You’re the boss now. All of the to-dos, shoulds, emails, questions, and meetings are filling up your brain. Don’t panic. Let’s all take a moment right now to close our eyes, notice the space that’s around us, and breathe. Come to this present moment. Take a big inhale through the nose, and big exhale out of the mouth (like the really loud ones you make when you come home from a long day at work. It’s okay - we’ve all been there).

So here you are, the manager! Here is a huge congratulations to you! Celebrate with some pasta and maybe ice cream later? This position comes with all the exciting feels. You’re ready to make a difference, to empower your team, to make sure everyone has a work/life balance, to grow numbers, to make a change. Guess what - you’re going to do that AND I want you to pause for a moment to reflect on what needs to happen with you before you get involved too quickly.

Jumping in fully without having boundaries and balance can create chaos not only for you, but for the team you’re leading.

I remember my first retail job right after grad school. I needed a side job while I was growing this coaching biz, and I absolutely loved this store. My good friend was promoted to store manager shortly after, which was going to be great for the business since she had incredible vision, she had respect for the team, and the team had respect for her. She jumped in fast, she was a go-getter, she was ready to make a change.


This also meant that with her new position, every piece of information had to go through her. She had to be an expert at all processes, know all the details, read a 1,000 page “Welcome New Manager” book of rules and to-dos, make sure the store was hitting numbers, explain everything, know the whys behind it all, and so on. With no boundaries and balance, the chaos began to control her. It happens, we’re human, and through some tough months she learned that in the beginning of this new position, she should have slowed down to speed up. With some help from the right people and her new perspective, she flipped her leadership around, and together with her team, she grew the business by 3 million dollars.

Maybe you’re feeling like my friend. Excited about change, growth, and empowerment. Maybe you’re feeling a little overwhelmed? These are both great places to be in as managers because this is where the growth begins. With you. So here are some tips as first time managers that you can use to lead yourself AND lead your team well.

Grace, Grace

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Grace, grace, my friend. This is one of the biggest ah-ha moments when I’m working with executives of businesses. Once they realize they’re not perfect human beings and begin to give grace to themselves, you watch their shoulders drop 10 inches to the floor. A weight falls off and you breathe. It’s so incredibly important to understand you’re not perfect, you will fail, AND you will still manage and lead a team of people powerfully if you desire to do so.


Get Some Help

One of the things I noticed about my friend leading the store was that she didn’t have any help. She tried to do it all on her own.

It’s impossible for us to ever know everything we should always know.

Did you catch that? There is absolutely too much information in this world, and it’s so important that we get with the right people who can help us along the way. Find a mentor who has been in your shoes. Maybe there is a higher up who is willing to work with you in this new transition. Get some help and slow down so you can then speed up.

Create Healthy and Necessary Boundaries

Boundaries with your employees, boundaries with how much work you’re doing, boundaries with the conversations outside of the four walls that normally involve your management, boundaries with the inner critic that tries to tell you you’re not good enough. These are just a few ideas to get you to begin thinking of where you need to set some boundaries so that you are living a healthy, full life of work and living!


It’s About Your People

Managers manage people. Therefore, it’s time for you to help out your team in accomplishing those big hairy audacious goals. You were great at your job before, completing tasks and hitting goals - now you get to set that space up for others and move them forward.

Get to know your people, how they prefer to be spoken with, what lights them up in the business, and where their skills can be strengthened.

Take the time to work with them in creating strong development plans so they have a vision for their growth in the company, and where you can help keep them accountable. Your performance is measured by the performance of your team, so how can you best set them up for success?

Remember, many leaders can take themselves too seriously. I want to caution you on this. Lean in. Have truthful and real conversations that are vulnerable and courageous. Never stop learning because you will never know it all and that’s totally okay. Celebrate the failures with your team. Take all of the humanness and put it into your leadership.

Kristi Triplett Jones

Kristi is a Certified Executive Coach who, for the past 12 years, has guided companies and communities internationally through human connection and relational intelligence experiences. She is a mental health writer, professional speaker, and advocate. You will most likely find her riding bikes with her husband with their corgi in a backpack to find the newest street food delicacy.