I just accepted a substantional promotion at work in a different state that will see me jump from an APS 4 (Australian Public Servant level 4) to an EL1 (Executive level 1). This is a great opportunity for my age (27) but also involves managing others, which I havent had to do before due to being in a technical stream. What is some good advice for a first time supervisor? Specifically when managing people older than me.


Chris Zeller's picture

Hi Maulibels,

First off, congratulations on the promotion. And a double congratulations for coming here to ask for help instead of flailing around in ignorance. What's the phrase? Good on ya, mate!

I had a similar experience ealier in my career and have since seen it play out several times over. The MT recommendations (results/retention, build on trust, focus on objective behaviors, manage the individual, establish 03s, invest disproportionately in high performers etc.) are on point.

Beyond that:

  1. Realize that management is a different, distinct skillset. Learn and practice it.
  2. Stay vigilant. It's incredibly easy to fall back on role-power. Half the time, you don't even realize that you're doing it.
  3. Value the experience that your team brings to the table, tap into it, and use it to benefit the whole team/department/organization.
  4. Say "thank you."
  5. Don't feel like you must have all of the answers. Asking other people on the team or saying "I don't know," commiting to finding out, and reporting back is perfectly all right.
  6. Own your mistakes and the mistakes of the team. Don't hang your people out to dry and share the credit when things go well.
  7. As you get to know your people, understand their professional aspirations. Then become an exporter of talent within the larger organization.
  8. Stay humble. Role power and decision-making authority can be intoxicating. Don't let it go to your head.
  9. Learn to laugh at yourself. You're going to make mistakes. Be gracious when your directs make their own.
  10. Keep asking for help.
vwelch's picture

Or, in other words, don't make all the mistakes I did :-)

Best of luck,


ZITTER's picture

Simple, be a good communicator and share information. Also,empower the team and don't micromanage.

jrb3's picture

Congratulations!  Changing your career to management certainly is more work than most give credit for.  However, you did well with technical, you should have the raw ability to become an excellent manager.

Get trained on management.  Find out how that's done in your agency / organization.  Find some more-experienced managers, ideally at least one inside and one outside your org, whom you respect and can ask questions of -- joining Toastmasters International [1][2] can make this part easy.  Self-train:  read books, work through the podcasts here, take the virtual trainings here and through your org.

For Manager Tools podcasts specifically, start with the basics -- on the website's header menu-bar here, open up the "Podcasts" menu and click "Manager Tools Basics".  Those 22 should keep you well-occupied for several months.

Augment with podcasts in the "Hall of Fame" when you have time -- menubar, "Podcasts", "Map of the Universe", then click on the "Hall of Fame" node visible there in the tree.  Click around to explore the tree, so you can find specific podcasts quickly to address issues that come up for you.  Consider a Manager Tools personal license so you can get show-notes, craft interviews, and so on.


[2] Australian club selected at random:

jrb3's picture

Map of the Universe:  search "90 Day New Job Plan" -- listen to the 'Overview' podcast first, then the other four.