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A First Time Manager’s Guide to Building Self Confidence

By Emilie Shoop (1055 words)
Posted in New Employee, Promotion on September 27, 2012

There are (11) comments permalink

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By Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting

Being a first time manager can be very overwhelming.  What should you do?  What should you avoid?  What systems do you want to put in place?  How should you organize everything?  What is first?  Where is your office?  Who is on your team?  How do you stay on top of it all?


First of all, take a moment to pat yourself on the back.  Becoming a manager for the first time is a great accomplishment.  Congratulations! 


Second, work on building your confidence foundation.  You are taking on something new.  You are not going to have all the answers.  You are going to make mistakes.  That is ok!  Being a first time manager, you have something to offer that seasoned managers do not.  Now is the time to define what you bring to the table so you can use it to your advantage.


Your confidence foundation is built on three pillars: 1) fresh perspective, 2) new connections, and 3) energy.  Reflecting on each of these pillars will help you stay strong as you find your way in your new role as manager.   Be sure to focus on the positive, not the negative.


Follow these steps to build your Confidence Foundation:

Fresh Perspective

Since you have not previously managed in the organization, you can offer a new point of view on old topics.  It is always helpful to breathe some new life into old projects or problems.  Maybe you have been pushing to try things a different way, and now you have the authority to test it out? 


Take a few minutes and write down all the ideas that you had when you were working in the trenches.  Capture those ideas before you get too far away to remember them.  You may not be able to implement them immediately, but having that list to refer back to will prove useful over time.

New Connections

If you have ever worked in sales, you have heard that you are not hired for what you know but for who you know.  As you move into management, you have connections with people inside and outside the business that others do not.  These connections are a huge asset to the business and management team.  People get the work done.  As your circle of influence is added to the equation, the business gets that much stronger. 


Create a list of all your connections, and where they may prove useful in your new role.  Then, be sure to stay in touch with everyone with a quick email, lunch, or coffee here and there.  Keep your eye open for how you can help those connections in your role as well…the road goes both ways!


It is exciting to take on a new role.  Just like the jitters you get on a first date, it is hard to recreate that level of excitement and energy.  Seasoned managers need your energy to help them manage better.  Your team needs your energy to feel engaged and excited in their positions. 


If you journal, write a few sentences to yourself about the energy you are feeling right now.  Write about the excitement, the buzz you are feeling, anything that puts a smile on your face.   Not into journaling?  Jot these notes down in a notepad or a file on your laptop so you can reference it later.  


You are an Asset

If you do a search online, or run to the bookstore to learn about being a new manager, there are so many things not to do, mistakes not to make, lists of things to avoid, you name it.  Most managers I have worked with were just thrown into their new role and told “good luck”.  Without having any idea where to start, it’s easy to be full of doubt.


When I became a manager of IT Networking, I had worked with my team for a few years beforehand.  The manager we had for that time stepped down and I stepped up.  Not only did I take on managing for the first time, I had to lead my previous manager.  Talk about having that feeling of needing to prove myself!  Looking back, the more I realized I was an asset to the organization in my role, the less worried I was about proving myself.  The less I worried about proving myself, the better manager and leader I became. 


Focus on your confidence foundation.  Don’t be shy about what you bring to the table in your new role.  Managers can make or break an organization; you were promoted for a reason!  First time managers are needed just as much as seasoned managers are in any organization.  In fact, most organizations realize a healthy mix of new and seasoned managers proves to be the most beneficial. 



Please join the conversation in 'This Week's Discussion'

Written by Emilie Shoop
First Time Manager or Supervisor Expert for ManagingAmericans.com, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting


Ask our Expert Panel a question in the First Time Manager Ask an Expert Forum.


Here are some related articles you may be interested in: 

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Your Facial Expression Can Make or Break You

Does anyone care if I show up?


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Comments (11)

Dan Weigold, CPC, ELI-MP posted on: September 27, 2012

Competence and confidence are tied together. Increased competence increases confidence. Practice being competent.

Gaurav Bhatnagar posted on: September 27, 2012

You will never know all the answers so the first thing you do is stop running after the quest to be an expert and trust your own humanness and knowing

DANIEL QUIAMBAO posted on: September 28, 2012

My comment is. As first time managers they have to wear a lot of dissimilar hats when first starting out. But, as first time they grow, they rapidly find that they go beyond not only their minds available bandwidth, but also their skills. For many managers, the first time they hire an employee is also the first time they're managing people, not just job goals. Some factors that will guide first time manager to successful people management and build self confidence. 1. Be the Boss, 2. Be Except responsibility, 3. Focus on the job objectives, 4. Train their employees, 5. Manage each employee differently, 6. Build self confidence 7. Brush aside fears and obstacles.

First time managers usually have a lot of new things to try and learn very quickly. One of the most dreaded for most new managers is the performance appraisal. This is especially true if some of those you are evaluating were your peers before your promotion.

John Taratuta posted on: September 29, 2012

Isn't asking the right questions much more important than having "all the answers?"

Reham Youssef posted on: October 2, 2012

This is very inspiring. As I became a team supervisor in a very young age and I wasn't experienced to handle a group of people along with my objectives and goals, I had to make trails every now ans then to check for the best way. I realized that my team, my superiors,and business line head must be first confident about my capabilities and talents specially my team as when they are trusting me I got an awesome outcome from them.

Nigel Bradford posted on: October 2, 2012

Tap into the smarts of others, especially your team. Empower them and Liberate them (i.e. give them the space).
Also don't forget great Leaders don't have all the answers but, more importantly, know where to go to get the answers.
Try reading Multipliers by Liz Wiseman for more on the practices for the 2010's.
Good luck!

WILLIAM GIBSON posted on: October 2, 2012

The best way to build confidence is to do something ,fall down over and over again until you can say I did it.

Prince Mwenitete posted on: October 2, 2012

Honesty is key. You are not "Jack of o trades" but at the same time you are not afraid to stand on the edge - learning never ends.

Jan Rajnoch posted on: October 15, 2012

I definitely agree with Nigel - for me this was always helpful - learn as much as I was able and ask my team or other smart experienced people.

WINSTON EBOY posted on: October 15, 2012

So Winston said Courage is it what it takes to stand up and speak. its also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Rebecca posted on: March 26, 2013

Don't be afraid to seek guidance. It's always better to ask a silly question than make a stupid mistake. You're new, they know you're new. When I changed careers from retail management to recruitment I asked my new boss why he hired me. He answered that he 'knows I don't have the knowledge but I have the drive to obtain it & the personal ability to apply that knowledge. The only way to obtain knowledge is to seek it out & you haven't stopped asking questions since I interviewed you Bec!'.

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