Plato Elevate Winter Summit has been announced (Dec 7th-8th)


Back to resources

Learning to Speak the Languages of Many Types of Reports


18 May, 2021

Jonathan Eldridge
Jonathan Eldridge

Head of Product at NexHealth

Jonathan Eldridge, Head of Product at NexHealth, is able to identify subtle differences in needs that each of his employees require in order to be operating at peak capacity.


As a manager, initially, I thought that in order to be effective for my team, I would only have to give them the things that I had wanted from the people who managed me when I was the one who was reporting. This worked really well for the first person that I managed, because he happened to be somebody who was very similar to me; the things that worked for me also worked for him. The second person who I managed, it worked okay. It wasn’t optimal, but we were sort of able to muddle through.

The third person I managed? It was a disaster. How they learned best, the ratio between constructive and positive feedback, the cadence of our interactions, the kinds of things that we talked about in our one-on-ones, their needs were very different from mine when I was in a similar position.

What I learned, painfully and slowly, by working with somebody who’s really different from me, was how to adapt my style of management to the needs of a particular individual on my team.

Actions taken

I think I used to have a stronger perspective on what the right way to do a thing is, when, in reality, it just happened to be my way of doing a thing. It may have been one effective way of doing something, but not necessarily the only effective way.

Now, when I have a new person on my team, I always start by having a really explicit conversation with them. How best do you learn? Are you most receptive to reading a document on your own, thinking it through for a while, and then talking about it? Do you prefer to sort of talk it out live? Are you somebody who wants to do a task together, watching and learning? That’s been really, really valuable for me, in sort of being able to scale up my team with people who have different styles of working.

I had a manager who told me that you can’t get an A on everything. Being comfortable means being okay with not being perfect. What’s not being said enough is that doing so means making a choice about doing some other stuff less attentively in order to make room for what you would like to excel in. One of the things that I’ve found to be valuable is communicating that to those around me.

Lessons learned

  • I’ve learned to focus more on getting as much as I can out of peoples’ strengths rather than on correcting their weaknesses. There will always be some element of constructive criticism in important development areas.
  • I used to think more in terms of a generically good PM. Now, when I think about what different types of work that my people take on, which person will be right for a particular role, I think more specifically. What are the biggest challenges in this role? What are the areas in which the candidate should be strongest?
  • One of the things that I’ve learned as a project manager is to ask myself: which things really matter, and which things can I let go for a while? You have to assign yourself a level of involvement in areas that are not your primary focus. This helps you to figure out how you work together with others given this condition.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader

Related stories

Improving Team Execution in a Remote Environment

29 November

Vadim Antonov, Engineering Manager at Meta, details his process of implementing an organized execution system for his cross-functional team.

Vadim Antonov

Vadim Antonov

Engineering Manager at Facebook

Inviting Juniors to Learn New Skills

23 November

William Bajzek, Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital, is always keeping his eyes open for ways that he can give his team a chance to learn something new.

Different Skillsets
William Bajzek

William Bajzek

Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital

Firing Somebody for the First Time

23 November

William Bajzek, Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital, remembers the first time that he needed to make the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the well-being of his team.

Team Reaction
William Bajzek

William Bajzek

Director of Engineering at Sapphire Digital

What it takes to become a great product manager

19 November

James Engelbert, Head of Product at BT, shares his deep understanding of the traits of a successful product manager and how to get aligned with the organization’s path to success.

Product Team
Personal Growth
James Engelbert

James Engelbert

Head of Product at BT

How to Build Rapport With an Introverted Manager

17 November

Piyush Dubey, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft, shares his journey of climbing up the career ladder through awkward times dealing with an introverted manager.

Managing Expectations
Internal Communication
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Piyush Dubey

Piyush Dubey

Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato ( is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.