When we think of the word “connector” we usually imagine something technical, a wire, a tube, something that plugs in at both ends, but increasingly, the word is being used to describe some of the best managers. A connector manager is defined as one who fosters meaningful connections among employees, teams and the organization to develop an employee’s specific capabilities. This is in direct contrast to the “Always On” manager approach which defines someone who commits to constant employee coaching and development.
Similar to the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child”, the data is showing us that managers who reach out to others to fulfill some of their own employee’s developmental needs are highly likely to experience better retention and better output. Connector Managers give targeted feedback in their areas of expertise; otherwise, they connect employees with others on the team or elsewhere in the organization who are better suited to the task. They spend more time than the other types assessing the skills, needs, and interests of their employees, and they recognize that many skills are best taught by people other than themselves. Most senior managers are exceptionally willing to help develop subordinates outside of their own departments. It gives them an opportunity to shine, showcase their own skills and do something that is clearly in the best interests of the organization
Gartner research finds that Connector managers triple the likelihood that their direct reports are high performers, and increase employee engagement by up to 40%. Reason enough to dive further into this approach.
Developing mangers to personalize employee development
Only 32% of employees believe their managers tailor coaching and development to their actual development needs. This is where a strong performance management system is essential. One that focuses on individual development plans and not just quarterly or annual goals to accomplish. Even employees who are not capable of moving up in the organization have hundreds of lattice or horizontal learning and growth opportunities.
Power the team for peer development
Only 25% of managers leverage their direct reports to develop others across the team. No manager is an island unto themselves or should be expected to be the expert on everything. Especially as our workforce ages there are a plethora of individual contributors who have a variety of interesting and enriching experiences that they want to share. Partner up some of your younger employees with some of your more senior team members.
Enable managers to partner for best fit connections
Although most organizations are investing to improve employees’ opportunities to connect for development, only 32% of employees rate these development connections as high quality.
Don’t overlook skill sets that other managers possess and would be willing to share. No one manager can be the best at everything and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses is key to knowing what to “insource” within your own organization.