Connect the Dots

By Jennifer Eng

When it comes to qualities desired of a great manager, the ability to give targeted feedback to help employees grow and develop is high on the list. Yet in reality, how often can managers provide feedback, and what are the best managers really doing to help develop their employees? Research by Gartner reveals four types of coaching profiles, with managers who: personally direct development based on their own experience (Teachers), continually coach their employees and track their development (Always-On), put employees in charge of their own development (Cheerleaders), and finally assess the needs of their employees and help connect their subordinates with other colleagues who have greater expertise and can help them (Connectors). It turns out that “Connectors” are the most effective at coaching, since their employees are “three times as likely as subordinates of the other types to be high performers,” and that when it comes to coaching, “more isn’t necessarily better.” While connectors outsource aspects of training to others with higher expertise, connectors still remain heavily involved with employee development. In order to adopt a connector managing style, the research suggests that managers focus more on depth and quality of developmental conversations over frequency, and encourage colleagues to help coach each other across the organization or facilitate introductions to the right colleagues, particularly ones with skill sets that could benefit others. In short, the most impactful managers stay involved, but recognize when peers can help coach each other more effectively.

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