New Beginnings: Advice for First Time Managers

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Imagine that you are hired as a first time manager at church. On the first day of work, you meet the people you will be managing. Most are older than you. All have seniority over you. A couple of your team members actually applied for the job you were hired to do. How do you handle a situation like this?

Never walk into this type of situation with a chip on your shoulder. Everyone knows you have lots to prove. Copping an “I’m the boss” attitude hurts and never helps. You are going to get the cold shoulder from some. You are going to be observed closely. Everyone is going to want to know what the new guy/girl is going to do. You will have those who want to get close to you right off the bat. Beware! Walk slowly.

Take your time getting to know your staff. Be careful of those who want to give you the dirt on the department. Instead, I advise you to learn the personalities of your staff on your own. Have conversations with them. Ask them questions. Find out what their job responsibilities and passions are. Are they cup half empty (pessimistic) or half full (optimistic) kinds of people? Walk slowly.

Walk slowly! Don’t start making changes until your staff is comfortable with you. Some of the toughest changes are personnel. You may inherit staff who are trouble makers, or who are where they are because no one knows what to do with them. At a minimum, watch and listen for six months before you start making major changes. Walk slowly.

Finding out the personalities of your staff and their leadership styles will help you to know how to manage them. It is important to help your staff grow. Figure out what motivates them to be productive. This all takes time and patience. Be patient and take it slowly.

Attitude is everything! Be positive, helpful, compassionate to create a safe environment for your staff to trust you and to grow!


Christine O'Brien is the Executive Director of Venice Presbyterian Church in Venice, Florida. She has been in church leadership for over half of her business career. She is passionate about leading people to Christ and enjoys doing so by caring for the business of the church and by building strong staff teams. Christine believes a healthy staff team that is spiritually growing and is able to listen to God's call, is one of the most important ingredients in moving a church forward.