We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Covid-19 update: Government guidance changed on 19 July 2021 - we're currently updating our information in response to this. In the meantime, visit the government's guidance on lifting restrictions.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to manage your first team

Many new managers are thrown in at the deep end with little guidance on what kind of approach to take, and what tools are available.

This guide helps you prepare to build and manage a motivated, high-performing team, without having to learn from too many mistakes on the way.


Decide on your management style

When it comes to managing a team, a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t normally suitable. You will need handle each context and team member in different ways, which means you must be highly adaptable.

While your management style is made up of endless variables, one of the biggest factors is how authoritative you are. Levels of autonomy will differ depending on how experienced team members are, and how innovative they need to be. So, while brand new team members working on carefully defined processes might need to have their work prescribed and supervised, senior team members in creative roles will probably require much more freedom.


Set SMART targets

Targets aren’t a vehicle for making demands, and you will quickly lose buy-in if you use them this way. Instead, they are a means of agreeing objectives with team members, and motivating them towards high performance.

To be able to do this, you need to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) targets. This helps staff recognise that they have a very specific purpose within the organisation, and gives them a guide for working in line with this.

It’s important that you don’t simply impose targets, but invite input. Allowing staff members to have a real say in their objectives has a number of benefits. Not only will they will be far more engaged, but they are more likely to take more accountability for their performance.


Have a communication plan

Communication often becomes an afterthought, despite it being at the centre of all we do. After all, it is the only method of sharing plans, goals and vision within an organisation.

Having a communication plan isn’t just about making sure all important information is shared, but ensuring you do it in a way that meets your communication objectives. Think carefully about how you will change your approach in different contexts depending on what you hope to achieve. Sometimes you will want to convey messages as efficiently as possible, while at other times you will aim to have a positive impact on morale and motivation.

Each of these situations will each call for different communicative approaches. For example, while email is a fast and direct method of sending reminders and allocating small tasks, it is not always appropriate for generating engagement; in this case, you might instead choose to hold a team meeting where you can incorporate body language and tone of voice for better effect, as well as countering objections face-to-face.


Create a development plan

Very few roles see staff standing still permanently, and ideally, most people will be continually learning and developing.

Think carefully about the direction you should be helping each team member to move in. Make sure you include them in this process, as there’s no point in sending someone down a route they have little interest in following. Your people will be most engaged and productive when they are supported to achieve their own ambitions as well as yours.

When you’ve got a better idea of where everyone is headed, define the training, resources and support they will need to get there. In some cases, this could be a recognised qualification, while in others it might simply mean a little more one to one time.


Carry out a stakeholder analysis

When you begin managing for the first time, you will suddenly have lots of new people to please. From customers to regulatory bodies, you’ll need to consider the expectations of a greater range of entities, and this can feel overwhelming.

It’s a good idea, then, to carry out a stakeholder analysis so that you can properly organise your thoughts and ensure no one gets neglected. Begin by listing each of your stakeholders, then create a matrix made up four boxes representing the different combinations of high influence, low influence, high importance, and low importance.

Place each stakeholder in one of these four boxes, depending on how valuable they are to you (importance), and how much control they have over the decisions you make (influence). You will then be able to see who demands immediate attention (both important and influential), who is not a priority (neither important nor influential), and who sits in between.


Page last edited Feb 05, 2018 History

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.