When it comes to helping employees with their professional development, especially during times of change, what type of manager are you?
Perhaps you’re an “Always-On” manager – someone who commits to constant employee coaching and development. You aim to stay on top of employees’ development and give feedback across a wide range of skills. That’s got to be good, right?
Or perhaps you are a “Cheerleader” manager, the most prevalent in organisations today: you are available and supportive but take a hands-off approach, delivering positive feedback and putting employees in charge of their own development. In a world where everyone likes to feel self-empowered, that’s the one to be – correct?
Then again, maybe you’re a “Teacher” manager – you’ve traditionally been an individual contributor and have excellent technical skills, but you’ve recently made your way into a management position. You use your own knowledge and experience to coach employees. You also provide advice-oriented feedback and prefer to personally direct the development of your team members.
There’s nothing inherently “wrong” about any of the above – they all bring strengths and weaknesses to a management role and they are more or less evenly distributed across organisations. However, the manager “type” to aim to be – and the one to look out for in your hiring efforts – is the “Connector” manager.
To explain why Connectors are the standout performance coaches, Jaime Roca, one of Gartner’s Practice Leaders for Human Resources, recently provided fascinating insights to Harvard Business Review (HBR).
Roca explained that Connector managers foster meaningful connections to and among employees, teams and the organisation to develop an employee’s specific capabilities – at the very moment the employee is primed to learn.
HBR commented: “Connectors don’t presume to coach their direct reports on everything. Instead, they guide their direct reports to people and resources beyond their own sphere and expose employees to the best opportunities to acquire experience, skills and capabilities at the time they are needed.”
Connector managers were shown in Gartner’s research to improve the performance of employees by up to 26%. Furthermore, Connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers and increase employee engagement by up to 40%.
Still not convinced? For those thinking the “Always-On” manager – traditionally the most sought-after – is the most effective, the HBR article shatters these illusions: “Surprisingly, their constant feedback can be indiscriminate, overwhelming and misplaced. It is also often irrelevant and inaccurate because Always-On managers tend to focus on developing their employees across a breadth of experience, even in areas they don’t know well enough to coach.”
Always-On managers were found to actually degrade employee performance by up to 8%. Cheerleaders and Teachers fall somewhere in between Always-On and Connectors in terms of performance results.
Connector managers, on the other hand, are custom-made for today’s disruptive business conditions, which require increased agility and collaboration. Indeed, Gartner research shows 37% of the skills employees use today were learned in the past year and 57% of employees develop new skills through their interactions with colleagues.
So, what are the traits of Connectors? According to Roca, the Connector manager will:
- Take an active role to ensure high-quality development connections, and don’t just delegate development responsibilities
- Invest time to diagnose and understand individual employee needs, and don’t jump to conclusions about employee performance and development needs
- Help employees get more value from their development connections, and don’t just focus on enlarging employees’ networks
- Deliberately create an environment of transparency and trust within their teams and recognise peer coaching and development
ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll offers a suite of professional development modules, including Learning Management, Course Builder and Course Library, to help develop the skills and competencies of you and your team. If you’d like to know more, contact us and one of our consultants will be more than happy to reach out.