8 Essential Tips For First Time Startup Managers

One of the most daunting tasks you’ll face as a first-time startup Founder is hiring and managing your first employees, particularly if it’s not something you’ve done before. Managing for the first time can be a real challenge so here are 8 essential tips to help you get started as a startup manager.

Understand what management really is

The first step to becoming a good startup manager is to understand what management really is. The definition of management is ‘The organisation and coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives.’ Keep in mind that everything you do as a manager should be a step towards achieving defined objectives. If you don’t have any objectives, it’s a good idea to create some!

Realise management is a skill, not a talent

Good management is a skill and, as with any skill, it can be learned with enough practice and time. Many of the Founders we work with at Hired By Startups are incredible managers but most admit they were awful when they started out. Don’t worry if you’re struggling at first, you’ll get better with consistent practice.

Know your weaknesses and fill in the gaps

It’s a good idea to evaluate your performance as a manager on a regular basis (e.g. quarterly) to understand where you’re succeeding and underperforming so you know what you need to work on. At Hired By Startups we have regular performance reviews where each employee is evaluated by their manager and each manager evaluated by each employee they manage. It’s a great way to ensure consistent progression for everyone.

Find a trusted mentor

As a first time manager, it’s vital to find a trusted mentor to help guide you through your journey as a manager. They should ideally be someone you have experience working with previously who will genuinely have your best interests at heart. They should be a highly experienced manager who can help steer you in the right direction and act as a sounding board for the tough decisions you’ll need to make as a manager.

Show genuine personal interest in your team

If you want your team to go above and beyond when delivering in their role they need to feel trusted, cared for and appreciated in their role. This is the foundation for any stable working relationship. Get to know your employees and who they are outside of work, build up real rapport and your role as manager will be far easier.

Focus on enabling success

The best managers don’t think about themselves but instead focus on the success of their team. If you’ve been responsible only for your own output until this point, it may take a conscious effort to shift your focus away from yourself and on to the people you’re managing. You should set clear goals for the team so every member knows exactly what they’re working towards.

Lead by example

As a manager, you have to lead by example. If you’re late for meetings, you can’t expect your team to always be punctual. If you’re always negative on problems you can’t expect a solution driven team. Your team will follow what you do far more than what you say so model best practice and you’ll get the most from your employees.

Don’t micromanage

People hate being micromanaged will often respond with lower productivity and engagement at work. You role as a manager is to empower your employees to do their best work. The best way to do this is to truly understand each team member’s strengths and weaknesses and clearly communicate expectations.

Bonus tip. Communicate Clearly

One of the most important skills you can learn as a first time manager is clear communication. Being an excellent communicator is a real skill and is vital in your role as a manager. For your team to succeed in reaching the goals you set, they’ll need to know exactly what’s expected of them and if they’re underperforming they’ll need to know exactly how they’re underperforming. Only by being crystal clear in your communication as a manager will you get the best results from your team.

If you’re a first time manager at a startup I hope you find these tips useful. If you think I’ve missed anything, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know!


At Hired By Startups, we help startups, scale-ups and VC backed companies hire really talented people and build teams that are more engaged and productive. Our dedicated onsite hiring service enables startups to see the benefits of having their own internal recruiter, with the flexibility of using an agency.

We’ve helped some of the UK’s best known and fastest growing startups scale their teams whilst saving 50% on their cost and time per hire. If you’re a startup looking to scale rapidly, get in touch to find out how we could help! For more info, check out us out here.


About the author 

Tom Ladds

Hi, I’m Tom – Founder & CEO at Hired By Startups. You can connect with me on LinkedIn here.


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