Leading the 1099 Associates

If you are leading 1099 associates — those who are not employees of your company paid on W-2’s — be aware of the U.S. Department of Labor’s guidelines on how to differentiate between employees and contract labor. Because rules and laws vary from state to state and from one company to another, we cannot provide detailed information or advice. It is important that you work with your company or get state-appropriate legal advice to make sure you are not crossing any of the existing boundaries that could get you in trouble.

It’s also important to adapt your leadership to the unique needs of 1099 associates. Typically, they’re looking for a different type of leadership than new associates who are merely trying to survive. They are looking for someone to coach them or consult with them on specific issues as they grow to higher production levels.

Here are some tips that can help ensure that you’re giving your 1099 associates the type of leadership they need.

  1. Ask what type of coaching they want or need. If you show them how much you value them by asking how you can serve them best, they will likely be surprised because no one has ever asked them that. You will show them you care about them and want them to be successful.
  2. Listen and deliver. When you ask that question, your 1099 associates will probably have specific answers. It is critical that you listen and then deliver what they request. If you don’t, you will lose their respect. Take detailed notes as they talk, and clarify what you think they are saying to make sure your thoughts are accurate.
  3. Provide specific support. Many of these associates need help with specific aspects of running their business, such as a business plan or a marketing plan. Most of them have been performing as general practitioners who think any prospect or sale is a good one. Help them build a plan in which they identify their most lucrative markets. Help them maximize their results while channeling their energy into areas that offer more success with higher satisfaction.
  4. Help them set goals. Top-performing managers ask their associates to set several sets of goals. We suggest you watch some of our video sessions on goal setting to see how you can help others set goals that motivate them intrinsically in ways that are deeper than merely hitting their numbers.
  5. Hold them accountable. A common flaw in some managers’ thinking is that veteran associates do not want to be held accountable. Managers fear that they are overstepping a boundary if they do so, but this is just wrong. Many of these associates want someone to help them set challenging goals and hold them accountable to those goals.
  6. Adapt your leadership and support as they grow. Also, as associates become successful, their needs will change as they need help learning how to run a small business. Many of them need help with the basics, such as hiring staff and acquiring office space. Sharing your own experience with them can put you on their list of trusted advisors and keep them very loyal.

It can be unsettling when an associate wants to become detached or no longer wants to be on a benefited contract. But this is just another natural growth stage in their career. To be the best leader possible, don’t view this as a threat. Instead, get closer to those associates and discover what role you need to play to be the most valuable resource possible to them. Remember opportunities are always found in the relationship.