What is Line Management? - Top 10 Tips

What is Line Management?

Top Ten Management Hints and Tips

So what is line management and what are line managers supposed to do?

Becoming a line manager can be exciting and daunting at the same time, like entering new territory without a map.

It’s an adventure and it’s also stepping into the unknown.

These hints and tips are our version of giving you a mini-roadmap.

You’ll still have to do the navigating, but our pointers will help you make better decisions.

If you can focus on just a few of these hints and tips, you’ll go a long way to becoming an excellent line manager.

These hints and tips have primarily been written for people in their first line management job, but if you’ve been a Line Manager for a while and are looking to refresh your skills, there’s some good stuff here for you as well.

1. Don't Panic

Ok, ok, we know, it’s perfectly understandable if you have panicky feelings alongside the excitement of your new position.

Panic, however, means your attention is on yourself rather than on your new team. The more you focus on how you feel, the less time you’re spending on learning what’s up with your people.

2. Be a Great Listener

One way of getting your attention off yourself is to ask your team members open questions and give them the space to respond and give yourself time to listen to the answers.

Even if there’s something you’d like to say right away, hold on to the thought without speaking it so your colleagues have plenty of space to articulate their thoughts.

You need to be listening to understand rather than listening to respond with your own views.

3. Scope Out the Lay of the Land

Often new line managers are thrown into the deep end and expected to swim which then causes a lot of ineffective flailing around.

Always take time early on to understand the dynamics of your team, how the team fits into the whole organisation, what management’s expectations are for the team, what you think is realistic in terms of goals and productivity.

Even if you were originally a member of the team and got promoted to be in charge of it, the perspective will be different and you will be giving yourself a great gift if you flail less and observe more.

4. Get Your Team On-Side

This goes hand in hand with ‘Be a Great Listener’. The best way to get your colleagues’ buy-in is to listen to what they have to say and then let them hear your observations and aspirations for the team.

Invite their thoughts and avoid dismissing any ideas out of hand (even if you think they’re rubbish).

Good stuff can come out of rubbish! Be clear about what you’d like the team to achieve and acknowledge what they bring and what support you can offer.

Learn the Basic Skills of Line Management Quickly and Easily!

5. Notice the Small Stuff

Too often line managers only acknowledge team members when they go above and beyond. However, if you want your team onside, pay attention to and praise the day-to-day.

This isn’t mollycoddling (as one line manager we worked with told us), but showing that you notice the everyday effort people are making.

6. Identify What Support You Need

This bit is very easy to overlook. You can be so busy getting stuff done and ensuring other people get stuff done that you ignore your own support needs.

Everyone needs support and it isn’t an indication of weakness; just the opposite, in fact.

A good line manager sets an example and if you let others know you can’t do it on your own, they will be more likely to let you know when they need help.

Get some line management training, it will really help. We have a brilliant line management training course you could try.

7. Accept You Don’t Know Everything…..Yet

First-time Line Managers often feel a huge pressure to know everything about their new job right away, particularly if they’ve been promoted from the team they used to be a part of.

Give yourself a break and take enough time at the beginning to get clearer about what you don’t know and try not to pretend that you do.

8. Don’t Pretend Full Stop

We're not great fans of ‘fake it till you make it' as one of the biggest fears of new line managers is that they’re going to be ‘found out'. Classic Imposter Syndrome.

If you let colleagues (both above and below) know what’s going on for you, you are much better able to manage expectations - both other people’s and your own.

Prepare For Line Management in Just Two Days!

9. Take a Lunch Hour

Part of your line management responsibilities is to role model behaviour.

If you don’t take lunch (and breaks throughout the day), your team members will be less likely to do so as well. They’ll eat at their desks or take shorter breaks because of your possible disapproval.

It’s healthier all ‘round for all of you to get out of work mode during the day.

You don’t even have to switch off if you don’t want to; you do need to challenge the belief that non-stop working is more productive.

It isn’t.

10. Enjoy the Job!

On occasion, you will probably need to remind yourself that there’s a fun part to the job as well as the more demanding aspects.

A great line manager can create a great team of motivated colleagues: the more you enjoy the job, the more your team members will too.

Jo Ellen Grzyb
Director, Impact Factory

Check out People Management's research on Line managers focusing on output over hours since Covid

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