The Difference Between “Always On” managers and “Connector” Managers

Brian Kropp, Group Vice President at consultancy firm Gartner, recently theorized that “’Always On’ managers degrade employee performance while ‘Connector Managers’ triple the likelihood that their direct reports are higher performers.”

These are bold words, but I believe that they may hold some truth. You see, we have to change how we approach employee management continually. As the decades have rolled on, managers can begin to put more trust in their employees, yet some “always on” control freaks remain.

Performance management is of much interest to modern businesses, with lots of research being conducted on the best ways to extract excellent and consistent performances from teams without reducing them to mere robots. Human Resources and C-suite executives have spearheaded these strategy changes, with 70% of organizations changing their performance management strategies in recent years.

The problem with “Always On” managers

Some managers, to put it nicely, don’t know when to stop. Whether they’re micromanaging small details or simply harassing their employees, they need to be always on at all times. They may think that they’re being helpful, but employees actually tend to become disengaged by them, finding too-frequent feedback to be tiring.

This ends with employees finding the direction that their manager is leading them in to be irrelevant. Furthermore, it can also decrease employee morale, making the team feel as though they aren’t trusted by their leader and need constant intervention to do their jobs correctly.

“Connector” managers are the solution

Connector managers take a completely different approach to performance management. For example, they tend to personalize their employee interactions, tailoring their management and communication style to different types of people. They also prioritize peer development, helping to foster a sense of camaraderie among a team. In this way, they “connect” people.

The connector management style triples the likelihood that direct reports will be high-performing “rockstar” types, so CEOs around the country have naturally pricked up their ears, hoping for a room full of rockstars to rival Spinal Tap.

This type of management can boost employee engagement by 40% and improve employee performance by 26%. These numbers are not to be scoffed at! It makes sense really – connecting people to one another and trusting them to do what they are hired to do seems like it should impart respect and grow morale.

We’ve come a long way from the old-school days of domineering managers barking orders at their employees all day – maybe it’s time for us all to get experimental with our performance management strategies!

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