How to Prep for Your First-Time Manager Role

Whether you’re managing a team of 1 or 100, follow these simple steps to make sure you hit the ground running.

March 23, 2023
Press the button to generate random icebreaker questions.
There are 300 more icebreaker questions at the bottom of the article
How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Becoming a manager for the first time?

Whether you’re managing a team of one or a team of one hundred, you’ll need the same skills to thrive in your new role.

Stick to these tips for first-time managers to make sure you hit the ground running.

What is the #1 skill that you need as a manager?

There isn’t such a thing as first-time manager training. But if there was, the very first lesson would surely be in the one skill you need above all others to be an effective manager: people skills.

Once you’re a manager, it’s your job to have the awkward conversations, take the lead in one-to-ones, and to resolve conflicts in your team. And it’s on you to inspire your people to do their best work, too.

You have to hold your reports accountable when their work isn’t up to scratch. And you’ll often have to fight your top performers’ corner with your bosses when it comes to landing them a pay rise or promotion (that’s right – you’ll still have to manage your manager).

And that all takes top-notch people skills to get right.  

What should a first-time manager do?

Stepping into your first people manager role soon?

Make sure you take these simple – but not easy – steps to hit the ground running as a first-time manager.

Learn how each of your reports deals with conflict

It’s important to recognise that everyone deals with conflict differently. 

Some people aren’t shy about making their colleagues know exactly how they feel. Others might seem totally content on the surface, and you’ll only find out they were silently suffering after they’ve handed in their resignation.

One of the most effective things you can do to help handle the inevitable conflicts that will inevitably crop up within your team is to build close relationships with each of your reports. That way you’ll quickly spot when things aren’t sitting right with them and simmering tensions start to appear.

There’s no shortcut here – you’ve got to put in the time and effort to get to know your employees and understand their needs and communication style. 

A great starting point is to quiz new staff on this during your onboarding process through a new hire survey. A few questions about how they’d characterize their communication style can go a long way here, especially when you follow this up by taking a genuine interest in who they are as people and what kind of things get under their skin.

Taking the time to do this will pay serious dividends, as it will allow you to spot interpersonal problems around the office early and tackle them straight away before tensions reach boiling point.

Try Assembly today to make tracking and recording how your reports handle conflict easy.

Focus on relationships, not issues

Not all your employees are going to be on the same page about everything. Which means that conflict is always going to be part and parcel of the working experience. 

But your team will have far fewer interpersonal problems if everyone has a strong relationship with one another. 

We’re a lot quicker to forgive and forget a serious misdemeanor by one our nearest and dearest than a small slight from a stranger. That’s just human nature. 

So, do everything you can to foster a positive and supportive company culture, and make sure to give your team ample opportunities to bond.

The most effective way to build goodwill with your reports is to simply make time for them. Set a weekly one-on-one meeting in stone with each of your staff where they can discuss anything at all that’s bothering them – big or small.

When interpersonal conflicts do crop up, keep in mind that it’s far more important that your teammates are all comfortable communicating directly and cooperatively with each other than the specific conflict being resolved. 

So, make sure no bridges are burned during disagreements, no matter how heated they get. Steer the conversation to common ground, and if things reach an impasse, encourage your staff to agree to disagree. 

This will be a lot easier for your team if they know, like, and trust their colleagues. When there’s a shared history and a mutual respect, conflicts over specific issues will be a lot easier to navigate.

Be quick to praise

70% of employees say productivity and morale would improve if managers simply said “thank you” more.

Plus, organizations that double the number of employees that receive recognition for their work on a weekly basis experience a "24 percent improvement in quality, a 27 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 10 percent reduction in shrinkage”, according to a Gallup poll

However, the same Gallup poll shows that 65% of employees haven't received any form of recognition for good work in the last year

Take the time to recognise your reports’ efforts in your one-to-ones – as well as outside of them, of course – to help ensure your staff stay happy and productive.

But bear in mind that not all praise is created equal. In fact, over half of employees say they prefer to receive feedback in an immediate one-on-one conversation with their managers. 

And the more specific your praise is, the more meaningful it will be to your staff, as it will show you’re really paying attention to their efforts rather than paying lip service to them. 

Book a demo of Assembly to make recognizing your teammates as easy as possible. 

Learn how to give helpful feedback

It might seem counterintuitive, but your employees will thank you for bringing up areas they can improve on. 

In fact, research suggests that people want corrective feedback even more than praise if it’s provided in a constructive manner. 

However, most managers find it hard to pick their staff up on their flaws. 

Giving employee feedback doesn’t have to be awkward though, especially if you follow these simple steps:

  • Don’t spring anything on them. When an employee falls short of your expectations, that should be dealt with straight away – not left until their next one-to-one when the criticism might seem out of the blue. 
  • Ground every bit of feedback in an example. Criticism that isn’t founded on something concrete can be interpreted as a matter of opinion by your employee and dismissed. 
  • Focus on themes. Pick out patterns in your employees’ behavior and ask them to brainstorm solutions on how they can change it.
  • Sandwich criticism in praise. Soften the blow of feedback by making sure to praise the employee either side of it. 

Discuss their career growth

If you fail to support your reports’ career aspirations, they’re liable to leave your team. In fact, 41% of workers have quit a previous job due to the lack of progression opportunities.

So, while you might not want to do this during every one-to-one, but you should be regularly touching on your staff’s career trajectory in your catch ups with them

Having an open dialogue with each of your team members about their career growth and how they feel that’s developing is one of the most effective things you can do to keep your staff engaged in their work and wanting to stick around.

Don’t make the mistake of leaving a candid discussion of your reports’ career aspirations until their annual review. Instead, invite them to let you know how they’d like to grow their career at least once a quarter and then do what you can to make that happen for them.  

Try Assembly to see how easy it can make tracking your reports’ career aspirations so you can help them achieve them.

The final word

Following this first-time manager advice will lay a solid foundation for a happy, engaged, and loyal team that will feel comfortable coming to you with any problem they face. And once that strong foundation is in place you’re bound to find being a first-time manager a lot easier.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

Could find the answer you are looking for?

Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered