5 top tips for new (and seasoned) managers

Got a promotion or a new job? Go you! Now wearing the hat of ‘manager’ with little to no idea what you’re doing? Lightning to the rescue… ⚡️

One-time Google leader and all-round Silicon Valley big dog Kim Scott wrote the book on business leadership – literally: it’s called Radical Candor. It’s invaluable for managers and you should totes read it. But, because we can practically hear you typing ‘TLDR;’ and we really want to help you reach your potential/slay your annual review, we’ve done the hard work for you. 🤓

Here are our top takeaways from Radical Candor that will undoubtedly make you a better manager:

  1. Care personally and challenge directly

Check out the whizzy graph below – this is the basis for Scott’s feedback model. When you care personally and challenge directly you achieve ‘radical candor’. Let us give you an example…

Imagine someone’s flies are undone. You have a few options:

🚫 Don’t say anything to them, but laugh about it behind their back

This is ‘manipulative insincerity’. You’re not showing you care personally about them and you’re not challenging them directly; instead, you’re using their misfortune to your own advantage (i.e. to get a laugh). Treating people this way leads to mistrust.

🚫 Call them out in front of a crowd

This is ‘obnoxious aggression’. You might think you’re doing someone a favour by letting them know they’re flying low, but you haven’t shown you care personally about them; in fact, you’ve probably embarrassed them and made them feel a bit cr*p. Treating people this way leads to defensiveness.

🚫 Don’t say anything

This is ‘ruinous empathy’. Taking this approach avoids embarrassing them, so you might think it’s the most caring thing to do. But avoiding challenging them directly means they carry on about their day with their pants on show – which, I’m sure we can agree, isn’t in their best interests. Treating people this way leads to ignorance.

Let them know privately

Bingo! This is ‘radical candor’. You’ve shown you care about them personally by saving them from flapping their drawers (yes, we’re going full Victorian) to the world, but you’ve also spared their blushes by taking them to the side and whispering or doing a subtle hand gesture/facial expression combo. This sort of respectful confrontation leads to trust.

Now imagine that, rather than their flies being undone, this person is displaying unwanted behaviour, making mistakes, or generally doing something that might hurt their career. Now imagine they’re your report. See where we’re going with this?

2. Care personally by caring for yourself

You know what they say: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Hands up if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a toxic boss in a bad mood? Making sure you don’t become them starts with taking care of yourself.

✌🏾 Stay centred

  • Work out your recipe for happiness – Need to exercise a few times a week so you’re not a total b*tch? Better with people when you’ve had time alone to recharge? Discover what works for you and stick to it, for the sake of yourself and everyone you manage.

  • Stay in touch with your personal values – Think about the kind of person/manager you want to be, or maybe remember a great manager you’ve had in the past, and stay true to that vision.

🫶🏻‍ Master your own emotions

  • Put your ego aside – Learn to take a step back and open your mind to other people’s opinions or ideas; after all, empowering others (not knowing everything) is the mark of an amazing manager.

  • Admit when you’re having a bad day – Even managers are human; you can’t always be in a great mood. Giving your reports a heads up when you’re not feeling yourself will save them a whole lot of paranoia, trust us.

3. Care personally by building relationships

Newsflash: as a manager, building relationships is your job. But this isn’t about making friends – it doesn’t matter whether you and your report/s would ever hang out if it weren’t for work. You’re simply aiming to foster mutual understanding, respect and trust that helps everyone achieve great results, together.

🙌🏿 Master the art of socialising at work

Emphasis on the “at work” – that means making sure you’re taking the time to meet one-on-one and chat with your reports during work hours. It means taking an interest in their life (in as much as they want to share – boundaries are cool, kids). It doesn’t mean getting sh*t-faced and oversharing in the pub on a Friday.

👉🏽 Master your reactions to other’s emotions

  • Remember work is personal – Work makes up a big chunk of people’s lives, so it’s understandable if your report/s have lots of emotions about it. Make sure you acknowledge, rather than disregard, those emotions. 

  • Focus on them, not you – Sorry, hun, but when you’re a manager it’s really not about you. Focus on empowering and championing your report/s and just trust that, at some point, your contribution will be recognised.

  • Be mindful of other people’s personality types – What works for you might not work for your team, and vice versa. Making a concerted effort to understand what makes your report/s tick will help you achieve more together. 

4. Encourage others to challenge you directly

FYI, being a manager doesn’t automatically make you right all the time. It also doesn’t mean you have to know everything, or deal with every situation perfectly. Like everyone else, you’re also learning and growing as you go. 

Rather than trying to meet an impossible ideal, do the scarier thing and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Encouraging others (including your report/s) to challenge you directly will actually establish your credibility, rather than undermining you. Plus, it sets an example for the rest of your team to follow.

👏🏻 Reward criticism

Criticising your boss takes guts, so fight the urge to get defensive and never, ever criticise the criticism you receive – it’s a surefire way to ensure your report never challenges you directly again.

👎🏾 If you disagree, explain why

Repeat after us: I will not get defensive. If you have a logical reason to disagree, explain it calmly and without malice – they may spot flaws in your reasoning, or you might help them see things from a different perspective.

5. Challenge others directly

Being a manager means having to have difficult conversations. While you might be worried about seeming like a d*ck, your report/s are more concerned about you being honest with and proactively supporting them. But if the idea makes you a bit sick in your mouth, keep in mind these tips for making those conversations more bearable.

😇 Offer more praise than criticism

‘Feedback’ or ‘guidance’ shouldn’t always be negative – positively reinforcing great work or behaviour will lead to more of the same.

📢 Praise in public, criticise in private

Self-explanatory – who wants to be called out for something negative in front of their team? Not us. Remember: obnoxious aggression will only lead to defensiveness. 

🤲🏼 Be helpful

Help your report/s understand that you’re challenging them because you care about their professional growth and about them as humans by stating this outright, so there’s no room for misunderstanding.

😶 Be humble

Draw on your own experiences and show vulnerability. And make sure you listen to how people feel about the guidance you’re giving them.

👥 Offer guidance immediately, in person

Unspoken criticism is like a ticking time bomb, so don’t save up guidance for performance reviews – raise the issue while the incident or behaviour is still current. Having said that, avoid nitpicking – if it’s not important, don’t say it right away, or at all.


Reckon you’d make a great manager? Send us your CV to see if we can help you take the next step in your career. Desperately need a good manager for your team/business? Your job process might be putting them off - here's 6 ways to make sure your hiring process doesn't suck.

You can also check out our CEO and LinkedIn Top Voice, Thea Bardot (they/she) giving y'all our best hospitality hiring tips at the Independent Hotel Show, below: 

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Thea Bardot

18th January

Career Advice Blog ED&I