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Advice for first-time managers

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Becoming a manager is a rewarding career move but it can be daunting. As a manager, you are accountable for the success and wellbeing of a team, not just your own.

We’re lucky to have a range of excellent managers in Cpl who have grown from consultants and executives to managers during their time working here. We recently asked them for their top tips for first-time managers.

Like the many different managerial styles out there, the advice was varied but some key points that came up again and again were:

Top Tips for First-Time Managers

  • Trust your staff
  • Enable your team to do the best job they can
  • Lead by example, but be open to being led by your teams’ ideas & innovations
  • Communicate a common goal and show passion for this vision

Here is the rest of their advice and stories of how they drive their teams to succeed:

Advice from Cpl Managers for First-Time Managers

Niamh O’Connor, Manager of Group HR – get to know your team

“New managers can easily overlook getting to know their team members. Icebreakers can feel forced and trite, but I encourage you to spend some time in your first meeting asking at least a few “get to know you” questions to the group.

Along with this, a great way more formal personality assessments will allow you to understand your team on a deeper level, instead of making assumptions. 

Workplace personality assessments provide businesses with information on an employee’s behavioural style and how it is likely to impact their performance at work. These reports can benefit managers and assist them at building and developing effective teams.”


David Martins, Senior Manager of the Invoice to Cash Team – let everyone see you’re human

“New managers tend to believe that any sign of weakness will undermine their authority. Team members are looking for signs that you are authentic as a leader and they need to know you also make mistakes. Instead of hiding or avoiding your mistakes, admit them up front and use them as teaching moments. Your humility will give you the respect of your direct reports”. 


Lauren Redmond, Associate Director of Office Support Recruitment Team – create an open & honest environment

“My top tip would be to ensure you create an open and honest environment where the team know where they stand and what is expected of them.

This is very important to ensure everyone’s success, not just your own as a manager. I feel my ability to listen wholeheartedly has really helped me develop as a manager. It creates trust amongst my direct reports and a strong level of loyalty and commitment to do their best each day.

This level of engagement creates mutual respect. It’s also important to not take yourself too seriously when appropriate of course. I may be a manager but I’m still a normal person “.


Gillian Owens, Senior Manager of our Marketing Team – treat your team equally

“A positive outlook, fairness and a sense of humour are essential skills in a new manager. It’s crucial for a new manager to treat all team members equally, a positive attitude is contagious in a team. A sense of humour is also vital. It brings the team together and helps resolve tensions. When everyone is working hard it’s great to also have a laugh!”


Ben McShane, Director, Cpl Financial Services – lead by example

“It is so important to constantly lead by example. Set the highest standards in terms of professionalism and work ethic and always look to improve.

It’s important to ensure everyone has a voice, that they are listened to and that everyone knows we are in it together.

Constant catch-ups with your staff are also important, people’s situations constantly change, what once was important to someone could change within a month or 2”.


Libby Kelly, Director, Cpl Technology – give honest feedback, good & bad

“Give honest feedback, as a manager you need to coach your team. If they have done a good job tell them but equally if you feel they could have handled a situation better, ask them how they feel it went. Tell them where improvements could be made and what will work better next time.”


Daryl Buggle, Associate Director, Cpl Galway – celebrate the small wins

“Take time to understand the culture and practices of the business. Get your hands dirty with the daily tasks your team execute to properly understand their challenges. With this knowledge, you can introduce incremental changes and set agreed goals for everyone to work towards. Celebrate the small wins on your journey towards longer-term goals”.


Susan Deegan, Manager of our Supply Chain recruitment team – don’t be afraid to be vulnerable

“Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.  It’s ok to say you don’t have all the answers.  Work with your team to seek their advice and expertise.  Then together agree on the best way forward.”

To be a successful manager be transparent with your team and take the time to get know each of them properly – their personalities, their strengths and weaknesses and their communication style.

Make time to look after yourself too. You’re no good to anyone if you’re stressed and overwhelmed. Although you are the boss it’s important to ask for help and have your own advisor or mentor.

In a Cpl survey last year 29% of respondents cited good colleagues as their main source of happiness at work, while a bad manager was the third top source of unhappiness.

Relationships at work matter. Being a good manager is something that needs to develop daily – it’s not always easy but it’s achievable and incredibly rewarding.

If you’re interested in joining the Cpl team get in touch – we have a range of opportunities available. Looking for a managerial job outside of Cpl? We have 100s of manager roles available across almost every industry.