Build great Teams – People management

My Story – Becoming A People Manager

My Story – Becoming A People Manager

Why should you care about the information I share with you? Why should you even think about working with me or my company? Well the simple answer is – because I’ve been there. I know that it’s not as easy as it looks to be a great People Manager. So I’m going to share my story. You’re not alone. You can learn from my mistakes so that you don’t waste time re-inventing wheels that other people including myself have already invented.

People Manager – In The Beginning…

I took my first steps towards becoming a People Manager soon after I started in the corporate world. I was given the task of managing a project which meant managing people to get the project completed. That was my first exposure to having to use influence and persuasion to get other people to complete tasks that I couldn’t do myself (for whatever reason). That was a stepping stone to becoming a Team Leader a couple of years later. As a Team Leader I was partially responsible for managing most aspects of a small team. That in turn led to actually becoming a Manager a couple of years later.

New People Manager

I was lucky enough to have a manager who promoted me to manage his old team when he himself was promoted. He was still my manager, but we both moved up the ladder another step. Having promoted me, he trusted me to get on and do the job of managing a team, which was great. The only problem was I knew nothing about how to manage people. My manager was too busy to spend time with me, so asking him for advice wasn’t an option. I set out learning to become a People Manager alone. Things started out alright. I’d inherited a team so I didn’t have to worry about hiring anyone on day one. The downside to that was I’d been promoted from within that same team, so right from the start boundaries and expectations needed to be set.

Rising Stress

Within a few weeks, I realised that managing people looks easy when you see a good people manager doing it. With no support or guidance, it’s actually a lot harder than it looks. Quickly my stress levels rose as I realised I was fully responsible for the people in my team. That included this phase of their careers. It meant I was responsible for making sure they received training for today, as well as developing them for the future. In addition I was responsible for keeping my team motivated and engaged, so they’d be productive. I was responsible for setting goals for each person that aligned with my business goals. These goals also needed to be relevant to each individual so they would be motivating. I was responsible for reviewing performance against the goals, providing coaching, and remembering to give recognition when it was due.

Difficult Messages

I had to deliver difficult messages, such as those around poor performance. This is something that used to keep me up at night as I worried about what I would say and how the conversation would go. I also had to constantly remember to communicate with my team because I quickly learnt that they couldn’t read my mind! When I did communicate with them, I also realized that not everyone interprets messages the same way. I was constantly worrying they wouldn’t do things the way I wanted, whilst trying not to micromanage them. Learning to delegate, communicate well and trust my team to do the job to my expectations was a huge challenge.


Then I had my first resignations. I struggled not to take those first resignations personally. Now I had to hire new team members. All of a sudden I was involved in recruitment, interviewing, and induction processes. This was one of the first times I became aware of the legal side of hiring (and a lot of other people topics). I started to lose sleep worrying about being sued – not because I’d done anything wrong – just because there was a legal angle to consider. The final nail in the coffin was having to deal with conflict within the team. That meant having to have more difficult conversations.

My Approach As A People Manager

As I became more stressed, I realised I had to find a way to move forward. I learned all I could about how things should be done; both the legal requirements and best practices. Combining my new knowledge with my love of problem solving was the answer. I started to see each challenge as a problem to which there was a solution for me to find. My other love is process and order. I also realized that if I documented what I learned as I learned it, I wouldn’t have to re-solve the problem each time I encountered it. So I started to collect all the solutions that have solved the people management problems I’ve encountered. Now I can quickly and easily adapt to any new situation I encounter and get managing people back on track based on a wealth of personal experience.

The Next Step

As I evolved as a people manager, I discovered a passion for helping other new managers get up and running as quickly as possible, by showing them best practices and proven methods to help them hit the ground running. In particular, I helped many technical people take that first step into management. Eventually I turned my full attention to assisting new managers become successful at building and managing their teams. I did this first in the corporate world, and now I use what I’ve learned through experience to help business owners, become successful with their teams as quickly as possible, so that they can focus on growing their businesses.

My Question To You

Have you been through this experience or something similar yourself? How did you overcome the challenges of becoming a People Manager? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


About the Author:

Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

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