The 4 Types of Team Members

The 4 Types of Team Members (& How to Lead Them)

#1 She/He Doesn’t Know How to Do It…but Wants to Do It

This often applies to our newest/youngest team members who are eager and excited to take on new challenges. Give them clear direction with specifics guidelines and if possible, a previous example that they can model after and follow. Don’t be vague and too general, thinking you are giving them leeway and expecting them to rise to the/your occasion; they want structure, and some expectations should be set. Such as, don’t just say “Can you gather some estimates for this?” Rather say, “I need 3 estimates for this, and include this and this if you can, by this date.” For these members, I like to employ the “Who, What & When” — who is responsible for the task, what needs to be done, and by when. This way the expectations are set and there is accountability established. And remember: they want to learn, so invest the time to train them. And if they lack confidence, be careful with your criticism.

#2 She/He Doesn’t Know How to Do It… and Doesn’t Want to Do It

Well, there isn’t that much you can do except to try to find out more about what would interest them in particular. They’re obviously not excited about the task and haven’t bought into the goal; or perhaps they don’t understand the history or the cause of the problem (past), the current situation or results of the problem (present) or the benefit of a solution (future). How can you get the buy in? Ask them for their opinions and ideas once you’ve had a chance to get into the details, listen, and provide them with the opportunity to show you how they would come at it. (If you’re going to do this, you also should be open to incorporating their feedback.) And like Team Member #1, give them specific deliverables and deadlines. But keep in mind: don’t spend too much time on them if it means you’re not paying enough attention to those that actually want to do it and learn, like Team Member #1.

3. She/He Does Know How to Do It…but Doesn’t Want to Do It

Such is the case with our more experienced members who would rather be doing something else. They might even suggest, “Why not give this to Team Member #1?” Perhaps motivate them by suggesting that they have an opportunity to train Team Member #1 and pass on their knowledge, so they can feel the satisfaction of getting something more out of it. Do give them a deadline, because they will procrastinate. Do show your appreciation, and let them know how much they’ve helped you and the team out with their expertise. At the end of the day, they want to feel like their “pain” has not gone unnoticed. And next time, try to find better suited tasks for them.

4. She/He Does Know How to Do It…and Wants To Do It

Easy: get out of their way and let them do it; don’t micromanage. They most likely will just run with it, but make sure to ask them to check in. And when you ask for status updates, don’t be too general like “So how’s it going?” (because you’ll get a just-as-general “It’s going great!” in response). Instead, ask specific questions that require quantifiable answers, such as “So how many donors have we gotten for that particular event so far? And what’s the target number we’re shooting for?” With this member, be generous with the praise and recognition, otherwise they may not be so gung-ho the next time around. We want to keep this type of team member around.

So what do you think? Would you find this information helpful in your life and work situations? 


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Erika Brechtel

Creative director, brand designer, lifestyle editor, mom