Through your interaction with your team, it is important to find out how they individually want to feel supported. If you don’t know, ask them.

Once you know your team’s individual support style, here are some simple ways to show that support.


That’s right – there are five unique ways people can feel support. It’s important to figure out where each team member lies on the “support spectrum.” The five ways are:

  1. Acknowledgement
  2. Things
  3. Autonomy
  4. Oversight
  5. Education


  1. Acknowledgement

Encouraging statements.

(“You’re doing a great job,” “Thank you for all your effort,” “I couldn’t have done this without you,” “You are a great leader,” “Good job on the _______ today.”)

This can be done both in and out of earshot of others. You can make a specific time to give acknowledgements as well, like at your morning meetings.

  1. Things:

This can be anything from a simple computer-printed award to a day at the spa. Gift certificates, PTO (paid time off), or more responsibility. Anything they can actually see, touch or feel that has a perceived value.

  1. Autonomy

Allow them the ability to work on their own. Give them space, maybe a quiet place to work, to do their job, or give them the ability to telecommute, or the ability to come in on non-patient hours. Give them the direction for an assignment, a deadline and allow them to finish the assignment on their own.

  1. Oversight

Create check-in periods. Have a process that allows them to check in with a supervisor or a manager. Create a specific daily or weekly reporting system. Make sure you or your management team is available for questions and guidance.

  1. Education

Send them to continual education seminars, workshops or conferences. Provide educational material that is appropriate for the assignment. To really feed this style, give them opportunities to learn skills not specific to the job, but that will benefit the company.

None of these support styles are inherently better than the other. The only difference is in how your team members perceive one over another. If for whatever reason you can’t give a certain team member his or her primary way of feeling supported in the moment, still show it in one of the other ways. It will be appreciated.

The importance of knowing how to support your team stems from the basic desire every work team has, and that desire is the same for you and me and every person on this planet. Everyone has the basic desire to know three things:

1) That you see them,

2) That you hear them, and

3) That what they do and say matters to you.

Following the five support styles will show them the support they crave and allow you to truly empower them in their positions. When you fully support your employees, you will have a team that works harder, smarter and causes less drama. More importantly, your team will become your personal marketing team that promotes, creates and celebrates you and your office.