Quality, not Quantity, Is Key to Employee Development

Connector managers don’t spend more time coaching employees than other manager types; they prioritize their development activities to drive performance. 

Gartner research shows there is no significant correlation between the amount of time managers spend coaching and any positive impact on employee performance. This is despite the fact that HR leaders believe managers should spend a full 30% of their time on coaching and development.

Connector managers recognize that there are skills best taught by people other than themselves

Connector managers — who boost employee performance by up to 26% and more than triple the likelihood that their employees will be high performers — do so by connecting employees to the right people and resources at the right time, not just by spending more time coaching, Jaime Roca, Senior Vice President, Gartner, told the ReimagineHR audience in London.

The Connector Manager Performance Advantage

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Unique to Connectors is what they don’t do…

Connector managers perform the same core coaching activities as other managers, but are effective in part because of what they don’t do:

  • Connectors don’t spend any more time coaching than the other manager types; they prioritize their development activities.
  • Connectors don’t assume they always know what’s best for their employees.
  • Connectors don’t presume they are the best source of coaching and feedback for their employees.

…as well as what they do

“Connectors focus on assessing the skills, needs and interests of their employees and they surface the best opportunities for their employees to acquire experience, skills and capabilities — at the time they are needed,” said Sari Wilde, Managing Vice President, Gartner.

“This approach is especially important as today’s organizations are increasingly finding significant skills gap within their workforces,” said Roca. “Our research found that 70% of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, let alone the skills needed for their future roles.”

At the same time, 45% of managers don’t feel confident in their ability to develop the skills employees need today — even if they had unlimited time to coach their direct reports, which they don’t. Managers on average currently spend just 9% of their time on such development.

Connectors focus their energies 

Connector managers succeed by prioritizing their activities to make the most of their coaching and development hours and competencies. “They give targeted coaching and feedback in their areas of expertise, but they also recognize that there are skills best taught by people other than themselves,” said Wilde.

In short, Connectors make three essential connections for the employee, team and organization — an approach that Roca and Wilde explain and illustrate in their new book: “The Connector Manager: Why Some Leaders Build Exceptional Talent — and Others Don’t.”

To learn more about how to build exceptional talent, watch this Connector manager video.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.


Gartner for HR clients can view the Meet the Connector Manager infographic and read more about How Connector Managers Coach to Drive Performance. They can also read more about The Connector Manager Genome: 9 Data-Driven Findings on the Connector Manager Approach.

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