Articles 2 min read

You’re a new manager – here’s the most important thing you can do by David Deacon

So you are a new manager, and you want to do a good job so you’ve followed all the guidance that you can find. You’ve done the online modules for the tools and processes you need to follow. You’ve reviewed the performance reviews from last year for your team members. And you’ve agreed with your boss what the priorities are. So far so good, and you are already doing better than most newly-appointed managers do.

But unfortunately, you’ve not done the most important thing yet. The thing that will elevate you above the rest, that will help you have impact, that will help you to be a great manager, the kind of manager that you would want to work for.

To have any chance of doing that, you need to create a plan, a plan for the kind of manager you are going to be. You must recognize that the best managers are the ones that very consciously and deliberately manage their impact on the team, and that they use the power and opportunity of the role to shape the environment which surrounds that team. 

It’s all a function of amplification – the way in which everything the team leader (you!) does is closely watched and probably copied, how everything they say is analysed and assessed for hidden meaning, how the way that act towards other people creates the norms for how everyone else should act, and how their priorities and preoccupations become the things that matters most to their team. Everyone looks to the manager for clues and cues about how things are going, about what really matters, and how to get on. And this process of carefully observing and emulating, isn’t something the manager gets to switch off or regulate, it simply goes with the job. 

So to be a great manager, you need to deliberately and consciously use the power of amplification. And therefore, you need to have a plan to cover these three questions:

  1. What environment do you want your team to operate in? Friendly, frenzied, formal?.. You choose. Competitive, cooperative, chaotic?.. Up to you. Caring, cautious, creative?.. All in your gift. You need to decide what the best environment for the team will be, given the priorities and the needs, and your style and preferences. What kind of team atmosphere do you choose, what will be the signature aspects of the climate in which your team does its work?
  2. How will you take advantage of the power of amplification? How will you reinforce the team culture you want? What will you tell them matters? What will you celebrate, what will you recognize? What in your own style will you emphasize? Knowing what you already know about the team, what will you discourage, or stop? How will you act in order to be a role model and example of the way you need the whole team to act?
  3. And then thinking about the individuals on the team, what relationships will you forge with each of them? The relationship tone you set will have a really big impact, so think carefully about the kinds of interactions you want to have. If you think distant and formal is the best way, act accordingly. If you think people should be a little afraid of you, be a little scary towards them. And if you want positive and supportive relationships, set that tone from the start. And as a clue to the best approach, think about what has got the best out of you from your prior managers. The chances are, being clear, and positive, and ambitious, and supportive, are pretty good places to start.

You are the manager now, and one of the unique privileges of your job is you can create the team culture, you can reinforce what really matters, and you can set the tone for the relationships in the team. So given you have that power, better make a plan to put it to really good use.

My first book, The Self Determined Manager, is for every manager, regardless of your level and experience. It invites you to be the best manager you can be, and stands as a manifesto for how management should be done across the world. Available on and More details at the Self Determined Manager website

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