One Thing I Wish I Knew Before … Becoming a Manager

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These days, there is plenty of talk in the nonprofit sector about mentorship, personal advisory boards, and professional development. But at Idealist Careers, we understand that not everyone has access to a cracker jack team of career cheerleaders and sadly, many of us have to navigate our professional path without our own social-impact Yoda.

So without further ado, let’s tackle our next topic in our “One Thing I Wish I Knew Before …” series:

One thing I wish I knew before becoming a manager

We asked our community of nonprofit professionals to share one thing they wish they knew before managing their first team. Here’s what two Idealists had to say:

“I wish I had asked for some kind of formal training to get an overview of what was expected of me. I think I was promoted partially because there was no one else to do the job and partially because my manager saw potential in me. But seeing potential and being able to realize that potential are two different things. I think I was expected to manage the way my manager had managed me, which may have been fine, but when you are dealing with different personality types and different strengths and habits from your manager, it’s hard to know what’s okay to change up and what areas need specific development.” ~¬†Anonymous Idealist

“I currently manage a team of four, and what I wish I knew is how much work it would be; a full-time job of its own. I’m lucky to manage great, smart people, but to manage thoughtfully and humbly, reflecting on what we can all be doing to learn and grow more, is a difficult tightrope walk. I’m grateful for the experiences that I’ve had to continue my education in managing, because without that, I’d be in the tall weeds.”¬†~ Anonymous Idealist

What’s one thing you wish you knew before you moved into a management role? Share in the comments below!


Is there a “One Thing I Wish I Knew Before…” nugget of knowledge you’re itching to know? Tell us what we should ask our community of social-impact professionals, job seekers, leaders, and nonprofit superstars. Post in the comments or email us at


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As a seasoned communications professional with 15 years of nonprofit experience and 6 years of experience creating engaging content and copy, I love the idea that a thoughtfully crafted piece of content can spark social change. Here at Idealist Careers, I'm eager to offer job seekers, game changers, and do-gooders actionable tips, career resources, and "social-impact lifestyle" advice.
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