First Time Manager

So if you are a first time manager about to jump into a role for which you have ZERO experience, then have no fear – I’ve got you covered!

I know as a first time manager I had no idea what I was doing, or even where to start. I jumped from the safety of the deck right into the deep end of the pool. And boy do I wish there was some sort of diving board to start from. 

The hard truth is that there is far too little support for such a crucial role.

There is barely any first time manager training out there. That’s why so many of us find ourselves completely lost!

For this reason I’m working really hard at building a diving board to help you to jump into management.

I’ve compiled some of the most important things you need to know about your new role in The New Manager Starter Kit, which I highly recommend you check out if you want some help.

In the meantime though, in this video I will be discussing what you need to know as a first time manager.

This two part series will give you the foundations of what you need to know so that you can become a much better leader even though you might have ZERO experience.

So what are you waiting for? Dive into part one!

Would you prefer to read rather than watch? Not to worry! You can read the blog post below.

You’re a first time manager and let me guess? You’re a mixed bag of emotions. Feeling excited about the opportunity, but anxious about what’s ahead.

Let me tell yah, I understand. Like you, I was super nervous!

I also remember how much I wished I had some sort of starting point to launch off of so that’s why I’m super excited to break a few things down in this two part series.

Here are a few tips that will make a world of a difference:

Define your strengths and weaknesses

Like I mentioned at the beg, I’m sure you are feeling a mixed bag of emotions. You are probably super excited and freaking nervous all at once. Maybe even doubting your ability to run with this baton.

But I think that taking the time to think about who you are, what you do well and not so well is a really good place to help you gain perspective and self awareness. Both perspective and self awareness are critical to your success.

A couple years ago I was asked to do up and present a SWOT analysis on my department in a strategic annual meeting and I fell in love with the concept.

I eventually started using it to analyze myself at different points of my career. And looking back, I wish it was something I would have known about or would have done when I first stepped into the role, so that I would have gained some clarity and made some different choices.

A SWOT analysis which stands for strength, weakness, opportunities and threats – is a process that is typically used in business to identify factors that might impact the success of a project, initiative dept etc.

But as I mentioned it can be used personally too as it will help you identify your skills and talents.

This is extremely helpful as it allows us to strategize desired outcomes by managing weaknesses and potential threats.


Jot down the following for each section:


  • Hard skills and soft skills where you excel
  • Achievements
  • What others say are your strengths
  • Your values


  • Hard skills and soft skills that you need to improve
  • Whatever you avoid doing
  • Anything that you lack confidence in or struggle with the most


Look at the weakness section and ask yourself ‘what in this section can I turn focus on that will turn into an opportunity for me?’


Think through the roadblocks or obstacles that you’ll have to blow past in order to be the best you or to do the best that you can.

Once you’re finished filling out your SWOT, I want you to really think about what you’ve written and take action on what you have noted. The goal here is to lean on your strengths, recognize where you need help and watch out for those threats.

The second reason why doing this exercise is powerful is because it allows you to set your team up in a way that uses their strengths to help you where you are weaker and vice versa.

Identify people on the team that can help you (delegate!)

So like I said, this SWOT analysis will really help you to see what is NOT your thing.

For example, when I did my own SWOT, it was very apparent that math was NOT MY THING! Granted, I already know that to be honest. In fact it held me back like an anchor.

I didn’t want to be in any position or seat that required me to do any math or analyze numbers. And I was constantly in my head about it. To the point that I would reject certain projects.

Then one day, my boss got to the bottom of what was going on through a set of questions and he said to me, “I’m sensing you have a bad relationship with numbers.” I was like “HELLS YAH!” He looked at me straight in the face and said “Who cares? We’ll just find you someone that is!”

Instantly when he said that something inside clicked. I realized at that moment I didn’t need to be good at everything. I just needed to surround myself with people that are smarter than me.

I tell you this because as a manager – you don’t need to know everything. You are no longer the technical expert you are the person that creates an environment where your team can do their best and do great work.

So identify the people on the team who can do these things – you don’t have to do it.

Take ownership

It’s important that you take ownership of yourself and for others.

Take ownership by developing yourself. Develop your character and do what you can to do better and be better every single day because you cannot lead others effectively if you do not know how to lead yourself.

Commit to working on self improvement. Read, reflect, and ask for feedback. Strive to be better every day.

You also have to develop a ‘it’s on me’ type of attitude.

You are the leader now, which means the responsibility of what happens is on you.

This means that when something fails or goes wrong it’s also on you. But the opposite is also true, when things go perfectly that’s a reflection of your leadership.

So ownership is one of those qualities that you want to wear like a badge because it is one that will determine your success or lack thereof.

If you want to go deeper on the topic of ownership then I suggest you watch this really good Ted Talk by Jocko Willink. He is a retired Navy seal officer that served in the Iraq war.

In less than 15 minutes he talks very emotionally about what it was like to be the leader of a team where a lot went wrong and how he took full responsibility for every last thing that happened. It’s really good.

He also has a book too that I literally just finished reading – Extreme Ownership. In his book he asserts that leaders must own everything in their world. And there is no one else to blame. It’s a great read!

Don’t forget to grab your free SWOT analysis!