Talent & Tech Asia Summit 2024
Reflections of a first-time people manager

Reflections of a first-time people manager


With little experience having someone under her direct care, the opportunity to look after a teammate has been both exciting and nerve-wracking for Priya Sunil, but one that’s most rewarding.

I've always had people taking care of me and mentoring me through life — be it at home as the youngest of three children, or as a team member at work, where I was always the "youngest member of the team" until about a year ago. The only beings I’ve had under my direct care are my pets.

So when the opportunity to look after our intern came into my lap, I felt surprised, excited, and nervous all in one go. Me, having oversight over someone’s work, mentoring them, and playing a big part in their growth? This was a whole new ballgame for me but as someone who enjoys and grows by helping others, I knew this would be the perfect avenue to take that further — while also nudging me out of my comfort zone.

It’s now been close to a year and this intern is now a full-fledged member of our team, and the experience for me has been nothing short of enriching. I've always heard my Editor say the feeling of watching someone under your care learn and grow is the most rewarding part about being a manager, and I’ve to say — I finally know the true meaning of that. And through it all, I’ve grown in more ways than I could have imagined.

Here are a few things I’ve learnt:

The first is the importance of time management. If you want to do a good job of helping others grow, the key to that is being there for them when they need it – be it for continuous feedback, guidance on different situations they encounter, or more. In the process, you need to make sure you’re managing or paring back your own workload without letting any of it spill over or pile up.

Since I had this reality check, I’ve been planning out my task lists more strictly with realistic timelines – instead of setting out a whole load of tasks to complete each day, I now focus on one-two in dedicated time slots each day, with enough buffer time to respond to any queries or guide my teammate on her own tasks.

Second, and this has been one of my favourite developments personally, is that I realised managers don’t have to have all the answers all of the time.

A more valuable conversation is one where solutions flow freely back-and-forth, and more so, when your teammate pushes you to think in directions you haven’t before.

This not only helped me open up my mind to newer ways of doing the same old things, but also created newer solutions for the whole team to tap into.

Third, and most importantly, enjoy the experience! Don't stress, you will make mistakes. Apologise freely and acknowledge when this happens. Admit when you don’t know the answers, but promise to come up with them together.

And most of all, remember that when you put in the effort in your role as a people manager, you are playing an important part in shaping someone’s career, and in many aspects, their life. That, in itself, is the biggest reward you can get!

The journey has just begun, but I’m excited for what’s ahead. No matter which part of your journey you are in, I hope my humble learnings can add some food for thought as you reflect on your own journey. ?

Feel free to write to me at priyas@humanresourcesonline.net if you have any top tips you’d like to share!

Photo / 123RF

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