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What Skills and Knowledge are Required by a First Time Manager?

What Skills and Knowledge are Required by a First Time Manager?

What Skills and Knowledge are Required by a First Time Manager?

If you have been promoted to be a first time manager then you were probably promoted because you knew the job better than anyone else. You knew the job, the customers, the suppliers and the systems, better than anyone else, and for that reason, you were the logical choice for the team manager role.

Now that you are the new team manager, people will expect you to be able to deal with some difficult situations and difficult people; and they will expect you to do that with a certain degree of skill.

However, it is possible that you have never been trained to deal with such situations, and now, as the new team manager, you are faced with a new set of problems that are not within your experience. You need to be good with people. You need to be a good conflict manager, motivator and delegator of tasks; you need to be a leader.

As a new team manager, how can you get the best performance from yourself and others?

You need to know the answer to the question: How can you get the best performance from yourself and others? The best performance from your customers; suppliers; colleagues; and boss.

This is the new knowledge and skills that you need to know. So, let us make it a serious study.

The following six skill sets will make you a marvellous first time manager:

You need to know how to:

  1. Set Smart Goals.
  2. Communicate clearly
  3. Manage time: Prioritise, plan, prepare and delegate.
  4. Handle difficult people and conflict situations.
  5. Manage your own emotions. Personal motivation, personal confidence, personal initiative
  6. Manage other people's emotions. Motivate others, inspire confidence and inspire initiative in others.

First time manager training

As a member of the team, you have excellent technical knowledge. But now you are a manager, you need additional skills. You may need to have some additional training to give you the additional skills you require. Click here to find out more!

Let us look closer at each of the six skills sets.

1. How to set specific goals

The first time manager needs to be clear about what is the goal, or target to be hit. The manager should be a goal-focused individual.

A manager needs to know where the team is supposed to be heading, because the manager is managing the achievement of a specific goal.

You become a goal-focused individual by concentrating your thoughts on the goal for as long as it takes to achieve it.

All successful people are goal focused.

For example: I've just been watching Jess Ennis winning the world gold medal heptathlon event. Would you agree that Jess Ennis is a goal focused individual? Yes!

All successful people are goal focused. So, if you want to be a successful manager, then you need to develop the mental skill of goal focus; mentally focusing on a goal until you achieve it.

How do you become a goal-focused individual? By always thinking about the goal, talking about the goal, planning to achieve the goal, asking other people how they think we could achieve the goal.

Every day, you need to be asking yourself: What is our goal? If you don't know, then find out. Or decide.

Decide what the team's goal should be and make sure that everything you do and everything you say is connected, in some way, to the achievement of that goal.

And equally, make sure that you are not doing anything and not saying anything that is contrary to the achievement of that goal.

Many people fail because they are inconsistent. They say they want to achieve a certain goal, then they don't do anything that will cause the goal to occur in reality. It is as if the person believes that just wanting something to happen, is enough to make it happen.

But you don't get what you want. You only get what you are willing to work for. And the first thing to do is to decide: "What is the goal and how can we best achieve it?".

This quality of becoming a goal-focused individual will improve your efficiency rating by a whopping 53%.

Your goal is to become a model of fully focused, efficient action.

Now you know what the goal is, you need to communicate it clearly to the others.

2. Clear communication

You work surrounded by many people from whom you need to gain their cooperative assistance. If you gain their co-operation, then your life runs a lot smoother. If you cannot, then your life runs a lot harder.

In order for you to gain the assistance of others, you need to perfect your communication skills. To do this you need to improve:

  1. Your use of language.
  2. Your personal appearance.
  3. Your listening skills.
  4. Your ability to ask the right questions.
  5. Your memory skills.
  6. Your ability to write clearly.

Have a look at the above list again, then make a decision to improve on at least one or two of them.

If you did manage to improve just two of them, then you would notice a big benefit. Better still, improve all of them!

3. How to Prioritise, plan, prepare and prevent problems

Even if you do have goal focus and an excellent use of language, that will not be sufficient. You will need to come up with an effective plan.

A plan is a document that sets out how you intend to achieve the goal.

Being a good planner, is a must-have skill. Being a good planner means you must perfect the P-list.

The P- list is the following list of must have skills:

  • Planning ahead.
  • Prioritisation.
  • Preparation.
  • Prevention.
  • Practice.
  • Protocols.
  • Perfecting.
  • Productive action.
  • Progressive thinking.

Make a decision to improve on at least one or two of these skills. Make them the object of some serious study. If you did manage to improve any two of them, then you would notice a big benefit.

You will need to have perfect, written detailed plans of action that will be the means by which you intend to achieve your goal. You need to organise your resources in such a way that you are operating at maximum efficiency.

You need to figure out how you might best make maximum progress, in the minimum time. That is not easy. That takes thought. Deep thought. And lots of it.

So you need to involve yourself with the power of the P-List. Build detailed, written, plans of action.

Even if you have plans, then you will find that some people won't follow them. That will mean you need the next skill set...

4. Managing conflict and poor performance issues

Even if you have your plans, you will notice that not everyone will follow the plan, or they won't follow it properly, or they will disagree with it.

Some people won't comply with your plan; so now you have a conflict.

It is inevitable that you will occasionally have conflicts with others. There will always be difficult people that you need to handle with care.

These difficult people do things that you don't want them to do. And they fail to do things that you DO, want them to do. They disagree with your plan.

They are disagreeable people. And you need to know how to handle disagreeable people. But how?

Answer: You need to handle conflict situations according to the principles of Reason and logic, NOT by means of anger and upset.

  • When in conflict, don't get angry.
  • When in conflict, don't get verbally aggressive; don't get upset.
  • You need to deal with all problem people "according to the principles of reason."
  • Treating people according to reason means.
  • Make reference to the facts, not your feelings.
  • Never swear. Be verbally polite at all times.
  • Suggest specific corrective actions to the other person.
  • Be very persistent.
  • Engage in a process of evolutionary change and try to change them over time, rather than trying to beat them into the ground by demanding that they change in a day.

Remember that you don't want to lose this person's commitment to you and the goal. You still need them to continue giving you their best efforts. You need this person still on your side.

Remember that your main aim is to keep the team functioning as a cooperative union. You really do not want the team to disintegrate into warring factions. A split team, fails.

So when in conflict, we don't allow it to escalate into a civil-war. Play your cards logically, not emotionally.

Learn rational conflict management techniques.

5. Manage your own emotions. Self-motivation, self-confidence, self-awareness

Conflicts tend to have a negative effect on the mood. So many managers are moody, grumpy individuals. You don't want the reputation of being a moody manager. You want the reputation for being a motivational manager. But before you can motivate others, you must first learn to motivate yourself.

So, you will need to manage your own emotions. This is what I call the S-List.

  • Self control.
  • Self confidence.
  • Self discipline.
  • Self motivation.
  • Self awareness.
  • Self mastery.

You need to manage your own mind. You need to monitor your own thoughts, because: "You feel whatever you think about". You can do this by:

  • Directing your thoughts away from images of a fearful future.
  • Directing your thoughts away from memories of past pain.
  • Directing your thoughts away from over indulging in your past victories.

Instead, fix your focus on:

  • Your goals. Your plans and how you can help your work colleagues to achieve their goals too.
  • Fix your focus upon the future and how you can make it bright for yourself and your family.

This type of forward thinking will inspire feelings of motivation, enthusiasm, confidence, anticipation, energy and happiness.

6. Manage other people's emotions. Motivate, inspire confidence, and inspire initiative in others.

Assuming that you have taken the previously mentioned five steps. You have:

  1. Clear goals;
  2. Excellent communication skills;
  3. Detailed written plans;
  4. Rational conflict management skills; and
  5. If you are feeling strong because you are managing your own mind.

Now your task is to give to others, the same set of five characteristics. Lead others to become:

  • More goal focused,
  • More communicative,
  • More planned and ready,
  • More rational, less emotional, during conflicts,
  • More future orientated and positive.

If you can induce these characteristics in others, then you will make the others in the team more effective.

As a result you will be able to get the best performance from yourself and others.

Which was our original assignment as a manager.


As a manager, you need to master the following skills:

  1. Set Smart goals.
  2. Communicate clearly
  3. Prioritise, plan, prepare and prevent problems from appearing.
  4. Handle difficult people and conflict situations.
  5. Manage your own emotions: Self control. Self confidence. Self discipline. Self motivation. Self awareness. Self mastery.
  6. Manage other people's emotions. Motivate, inspire confidence, and inspire positive emotions in others.

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About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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