06 November 2022 |

Imagine if you knew what your team needed from you


The phrase “treat people how you want to be treated” doesn’t work in leadership.

To be an impactful leader, you have to treat people how THEY want to be treated.

As a founder building a team, knowing what each individual on your team needs from you is exhausting and might seem impossible. 

Your new HR director and the entry-level intern will both benefit greatly from your support, but the type of support they need is very different.

The type of leadership an individual needs from you will vary depending on the situation.

As a leader, you will need to match your style depending on the competence and experience of your team.

Let’s look at three employee levels and how best to support them.

Level 1: Training

Team members who are brand new to the workforce and their role will need you to break down the how and follow up consistently.

Chris is a marketing intern.

He’s done well in school and is excited about an opportunity to show off his skill with a new startup.

The problem is he is so new that he doesn’t always know what questions to ask and doesn’t feel confident enough to ask questions when he thinks of them.

He constantly feels like he is missing important communication and doesn’t always know the right path to take to complete his work.

It’s frustrating. His confidence is shot, and he starts to wonder if he picked the right industry.

Level 1 employees need support in the form of on-the-job training. 

They need clear direction into how to do the job, when deliverables are due, and why the job is important.

And they need consistent follow-up. 

Consistent follow-up is the only way to help your team develop healthy habits. 

The things that get recognized get repeated.

You can only recognize someone for doing a good job if you are there to follow up and see their work.

Level 2: Collaboration

When you hire employees with experience, or your current team develops skills in their role, you will be able to focus less on the “How” a job should be done and give them more room to problem solve on their own.

When employees reach this level, your focus in conversations should be focused primarily on What job needs to be done and “Why” it is important. 

Talented people like to problem-solve. Take time to collaborate on how a job should get done and let them have ownership of the result. 

Level 2 employees will need frequent 1:1s. Make time for the things important to them and create a cadence for regular project updates. These updates will ensure they consistently feel supported when overcoming obstacles that may create delays.

If you have a 30-minute 1:1 scheduled, save the project updates for the last 10 minutes. Putting their priorities first is a great way to get buy-in.  

(I wrote a thread on Twitter that will help guide your questions in assisting them to overcome obstacles.) 

Level 3: Delegation

Ideally, you will have leaders in your organization who can problem-solve independently.

This means you can delegate problems and look for them to make recommendations into timelines and resources needed. 

Level 3 employees are proactive, know how to put a plan together, execute at a leadership level, and are effective communicators.

If you don’t have employees at this level yet, look at your people development process.

Look for opportunities to get your employees the experiences and resources needed to develop into future leadership roles.

Have questions? I’m always just an email away and will always help how I can.