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The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't (1 page book summary)

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2019


One Page Book Summary (Click here to print 1 page PDF):

The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent - and Others Don't

Authors: Jaime Roca and Sari Wiilde (Gartner)

Authors discuss the macro shifts and speed of change in business increasing the complexity of managing. In their research, they found “connected managers” improve employee performance by 3x while another profile degrades employee performance (and it’s the one most have been investing in!).  Some finding that made me read more…


  • 70% of HR leaders believe Managers should get more involved in coaching and
  • Millennials want feedback 50% more often
  • Yet, managers Don’t feel confident in their ability to develop the skills employees
  • There is a huge gap between the amount of time HR thinks managers should spend on developing direct reports vs actual time


Gartner researched (9000+) what the best managers are doing to coach & develop in today’s work environment and found four different profiles (% evenly distributed across the 4 profiles):

  1. Teacher - provides guidance based on their own experiences (typical hi-perf promoted)
  2. “Always On” - Continuous feedback and coaching (where orgs are investing the most)
  3. Cheerleader - empowers team but not as good with tough feedback
  4. Connector Manager - targeted feedback if it’s their areas of expertise and otherwise helps to curate the right resource at the right time and good at trust building and therefore “tough love”. There are great examples in the book.


To the Authors’ surprise, the category that degrades employee performance is the “Always on manager”. While the “Connected Manager” had the best results related to improving employee performance. With the “Always on managers” style being overwhelming yet not always having the right answers while the Connected managers know that they aren’t always the right person to provide the development needed but, will procure the right connections.


The Connected leaders have 3 primary behaviors that make them most effective at producing more productive employees:

  1. Diagnose and ask the right questions: take time to know employees’ motivations and goals (how, why, what if... questions and active listening skills). They build trust & good at “tough love” feedback
  2. Team Sport: they make development a team sport (find hidden skills on team - lunch & learns where everyone shares what they can teach others)
  3. Procure the right connections: Connect staff to the best resources internally or external to the organization while still playing and active role to prepare employees to make the most of the session and follow up on what they learned. Example - CEO of small org leveraging what he calls “benevolent outsiders”


Their suggestions on 5 Steps to Creating a connected Culture:

  1. Assess how connected your managers. are now against connected managers behaviors (they have a quiz)
  2. Don’t promote “Always On” behaviors and enable more connections to happen
  3. ID ways to build Connected Managers behaviors: Hiring guides to developmental programs
  4. Set expectations for leaders about creating a connected culture
  5. ID ways to change your approach to become a connected manager (join an HR peer group!)


P.S.  If you are leading in challenging times, and crave the (virtual) company of a group of HR leaders, join us in the HR Circle Group each month for live video discussions to solve your most pressing issues and learn from other HR leaders like you. To learn more:


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