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truths about people management

7 Truths About People Management Any First-Time Manager Needs to Know


Would you like to manage people in your professional future? Then this post on truths about people management is for you.


Many aspiring managers think of a salary increase, having a fancy title, and being in charge of a team. Sounds good so far. Nonetheless, the reality looks different. Studies have found that 40% of new managers are unprepared for their role.


I have been managing people for over a year, and I am still trying to figure out the secret sauce. The only thing I know is that the truth about people management doesn't look anything than I imagined.


Why is that?


Because many things in people management are only spoken about behind closed doors and come with painful experience. They are not driven by team spirit, as is often pictured in standard management literature. They are instead driven by the hard truths of running a business.


I am sharing here my top revelations and truths about people management in the hope of helping you make the transition into people management as smoothly as possible.

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7 Hard Truths about People Management Every First-Time Manager Needs to Know

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Truth 1: You Have to be Okay with Being Unpopular

I still find this a tough one!


Nonetheless, management is not a popularity contest. A manager is responsible for executing the business directions and ensuring that the business targets are met. This requires manager's to monitor and correct actions of their team, and sometimes of other teams.


This doesn't bring friends. However, a good manager will aim for respect rather than popularity.


Truth 2: Management Can Be Lonely

A manager's support system is much smaller.


When you are an individual contributor, others have similar roles and similar problems. This allows for sharing resources, learning from experience, and asking for guidance. However, a manager of a team doesn't have this support system.


The only opportunity is to ask other managers for support who might be acquainted with the type of problem but won't be in the same situation.


Truth 3: You Need to "Get S**t Done" Through Others

It is likely that you were promoted because you excelled in your previous job and showed talent for management. In your previous job you were in the detail of everything and you had to do it all by yourself.


As manager, you cannot afford to be in the detail of everyday tasks anymore as the scope of your responsibilities has widened and shifted. Your responsibility as manager is ensuring that your team is on top of all day-to-day activities. This sounds simple but will require much adjustment.


Truth 4: Management is Emotional

Management is emotional and you will get a lot of insight in other people’s life. At the same time you might get emotional yourself. Nonetheless, a manager needs to stay objective and keep her cool.


Please don't underestimate the impact it has on you when a report expresses negative emotions, such as frustration, worry, and anger. It would help if you used empathy to foster good relationships with your team members, but you cannot allow these emotions to rub off on yourself.


If you allow that, you are running the risk of letting other people's emotions influence your assessments.


Truth 5: You Will Spend Less Time in the Limelight

Managers enable their team, they don't do the work. Keep this in mind!


This also means that credit for work well done always has to be attributed to your team members. It can be hard to get less praise and positive feedback, especially as a first-time manager.


At the same time, however, you need to protect your team. If there is insufficient feedback from the outside of the group, you will need to accept the blame. Never criticize your team in front of others! Then deal with the underperformance internally.


Truth 6: Pressure Will Come from All Sides

I felt pressure from my bosses when I was a single contributor. And I did not like it. However, it was nothing in comparison to the pressure I experience as manger in hintside.


As a manager, there is constant pressure from all sides: your boss, other managers, and your team. A manager needs to deal with the continuous push and pull.


Truth 7: People Won't Tell You the Truth

No one likes bad news. There is only one thing that's worse and that is when your team does not tell you about it or too late. Unfortunately this is rather the norm than an execption.


When it comes to brutal truths you need to be proactive with your team. Never assume; always ask. Ask as long as it takes for you to get to the bottom of the situation.


Additionally, it is worth investing time into your team to improve this situation in the long term. Create safe places which are not judgemental, like exclusive team meetings and 1:1s, to get them talking. Also, set clear expectations of what kind of issues need escalation and your expected time frame for these.

International Association of Women membership
Free work interview preparation for first time manager questions
Career with a View networking event

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