Advice from peers: How to succeed in your first management position

We spoke to global development professionals in mid-level and senior level positions to hear their advice for surviving and succeeding your first management position. Photo by: WOCinTech Chat / CC BY

Your first experience in a management position can be both exciting and daunting as you learn on the job what it means to oversee people, programs and budgets. This is particularly the case in the global development sector, where resource-strapped organizations may not have a training budget or program in place to guide early-career managers.

“It's a huge learning curve,” says Maya El Hage, an operations manager for a global development organization in Lebanon who has been in her role just over a year. “You develop skills personally and professionally, and you are exposed to a lot of different people, different ideas, different stakeholders, different organizations.”

We spoke to global development professionals in mid-level and senior level positions to hear their advice for surviving and succeeding in your first management position. Here is what they said.

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Get to know the organization

If you ended up in this position through an internal promotion, you will already be familiar with how things work within the organization. Otherwise, take some time to learn about the processes in place and the people you will manage. Look for opportunities for improvements and make suggestions, but these solutions should be shaped by the opinions of the people on your team as well.

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About the author

  • Emma smith

    Emma Smith

    Emma Smith is a reporting and communications associate at Devex, based in Barcelona. She focuses on bringing the latest career and hiring trends, tips, and insights to our global development community. Emma has a background in journalism and, in addition to writing for news publications, has worked with organizations focusing on child rights and women’s rights in sustainable development.