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New to managing a team? 5 things to help you succeed.

Expectations aside, many experienced people managers know that the role is more than delegating tasks to other team mates. Here is what you need to know to stay happy and successful in your role.

Picture this.

You’ve worked hard to deliver results at work and have been promoted to ‘team manager’ officially or otherwise) which means you are now tasked with guiding and supporting your team to succeed.

Alternatively, you recently got a new job as team manager. While you are excited and motivated, you also realise how you add value to the team now may be different to when you were in a delivery role. 

Promotion or a new job, as soon as ‘manager’ has been added to your job title, there is the expectation (from yourself or others) that you have all the answers. In reality, it feels quite the opposite.

That is what CAPE’s report, People Management – Remembering the First Time has uncovered. The report draws real-life anecdotes and knowledge from experienced people managers from all sectors in order to identify key behaviours, approaches, support and guidance mechanisms. Read on for a round up of what the respondents had to say. 


A number of respondents from CAPE’s study shared that they struggled with living up to expectations of having all the answers and felt like they were unequipped to manage a team despite being good at their job. 

One respondent said, “At 24, I didn’t have the life experience, empathy, wealth of conversations and experience you benefit from, the older you get. The other real problem that I had was that you tend to be promoted for being competent at your job and not necessarily for your ability to be a good manager.” 

Behind the drive and motivation in excelling at the job, there is also the joy of recognition that can be dampened with not being sure of what to do. 

“I remember feeling two things. One, feeling quite excited – I felt that there was recognition that I was capable of taking on more and having a team. Two – I remember thinking, ‘where do I start?’ We had to spend time getting to know each other and agree with how we were going to work.” 

According to a report published by CIPD in 2020,  only 40% of people have had people management training. Within the SMEs, this figure drops to only 26%. This means that many fresh people managers do not always have the support and guidance to equip themselves to feel confident when starting their roles. 


It is no secret that there is a direct correlation between the quality of manager and overall team performance. A Gallup survey found that the quality of a manager accounts for 70% of the variance in team engagement. Businesses that acknowledge this impact actually invest significantly in manager development training and coaching every year. 

While the approach of being a good people manager may vary between individuals, respondents from CAPE’s study agree that they have seen their direct impact on their teams and the work that they do.

“If you don’t have a good manager, you are going to struggle to find your way.”

Regardless of whether the business that you are working for already invests in training or not, one respondent advises to ask for support on how to be a better people manager as it is in everyone’s best interest. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for support as it is part of your development plan. It is not a weakness to identify areas for improvement.” 


According to Forbes, about 60% of managers underperform within the first two years of taking on the role. While there are various reasons for this figure, it does dampen self-belief and in turn, general satisfaction on the job. 

 The transition between colleague to manager is quite a challenge to most people. That expectation to ‘flip the switch’ may be jarring but is incredibly common. 

“One day, you’re not managing people. Then the next day, they’re coming to you for answers. They’re coming to you for guidance, and you don’t always have those answers. But as soon as you add manager to your title, it’s almost like people think you’ve become this superhuman power, like a superhero that knows the answer to everything and can do everything.”
Some respondents struggled with finding the balance between being liked and respected. One said, “From my own experience and the people that have worked for me who manage people, I think people tend to struggle with the difference between being liked and being a mate versus being a boss.”

While everyone and every business is unique, some of the top universal characteristics of a good people manager already exist in most people. They include the willingness to have open communication, listen and be supportive.

Find out about the characteristics and more by downloading the study here


Yes, there is no doubt that there are expectations to perform in your people manager role. However, this does not take away from the fact that you are a person who is learning and developing skills like everyone else in the business. 

One of the respondents shared that they felt a bit like a fraud and continued by saying, “I would hear that I was the leader of the team without necessarily knowing how I was meant to be the leader of the team. Having to put a brave face on things and give the impression that I knew what I was doing.”

This way of thinking can feel like a bit of a chokehold. However, taking into account one of the key characteristics of being a thriving people manager is the willingness to have open communication, showing your human side does open doors to more inclusive collaboration from the team and open to more honest conversations. 

“Being willing to seek advice if you’re not sure how to handle a situation can be quite useful in getting input from other people.” 
“I think you should be able to approach any manager within a business and be able to openly talk to them about whatever your problems or issues you’ve got.”


Many well intentioned businesses that invest in manager development training tend to find varying levels of success. In fact, Gallup found that 77% of what is learnt from training is forgotten after leaving the classroom.

Echoing this, one respondent recalled, “I was asked to join a management training course. Hated every minute of it because it was all roleplaying. I hadn’t been involved in that type of training before. I was nervous, I didn’t want to make a mess of it or look like a fool in front of other people, not realising that there isn’t necessarily any such thing as a right way of doing something.”

People managers that have thrived in their roles developed self-belief by gaining adequate support during the transition, developed their human qualities and got the right learning resources to support them with their day-to-day demands. 

Classroom and knowledge-based training isn’t enough. The managers who felt most confident in growing within their roles had a support network of peers, received coaching and mentoring from positive role models. 

“We have such a responsibility in terms of an individual’s early career – we can positively give them experiences to help them develop. Or, they may negatively deal with the consequences later on in their career.”


CAPE’s report, People Management – Remembering the First Time provides strong insights on the impact of business performance of great people managers, their key characteristics, experiences of first-time managers and what they learnt, as well as what makes them thrive. 

These findings have motivated the team behind CAPE to open up the conversation about what it takes for people managers to feel supported, happy and fulfilled while excelling in what they do. As the demands faced by the next generation of people managers continue to evolve, CAPE has developed a programme that provides a safe place to learn by being coached and coaching others within a community that develops self-belief and confidence. 

Get the latest updates and be part of the conversation by following CAPE’s LinkedIn page

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