The primary characteristic of a progressive and growing company is its learning culture. Yes, we need learning interventions, and technological advancement in the learning and development (L&D) space has further helped organisations to make their employees learn better and keep evolving. Still, we cannot neglect the managers’ role in coaching and mentoring their employees and teams. Apart from carrying out their regular work, managers also create leaders for the future. That is how a company evolves and gets an edge over its competitors.
In one of the studies conducted by Gartner, the following four types of managers were identified, who help enhance the skills in their team members.
Teachers – These are the managers who coach and mentor team members through their knowledge and experience.
Cheerleaders – These managers will encourage their team members to build on their skills and let them find their own path to develop those skills on their own.
Always-on – This type of manager will constantly give and take feedbacks, and give regular coaching to the team members.
Connector managers – They are the ones who help their team members to the best of their capacity, sharing with them their expertise and further connecting them to the right people who can guide and coach the employees to develop the desired skills.
The Study reveals that while most managers do enhance the performance of the employees, it is the ‘connector managers’ who do it the most.
Organisations would do well to have connecter managers in leadership positions.
“We do not consciously identify and look for connector managers while hiring people in leadership roles, but at the back of my mind I do look at people who are well connected and have a wide network in the industry,” explains Kamal Vatnani, India leader- culture and people experience, Ensono.
For those who wish to hire a connector manager, there are specific traits and skills to look for in the candidates.
“We do not consciously identify and look for connector managers while hiring people in leadership roles, but at the back of my mind I do look at people who are well connected and have a wide network”
The most important asset in connector managers would be their wide network in the industry.
To check that, the candidates can be asked about the attrition rate of their team in their previous organisation. The right candidate should also be capable of convincing a person to not leave the company by helping her/him fit into some other role in a different department. Simply put, the right candidate should be able to build a network internally.
In addition, the common connections that such people may have on social media platforms is a great indicator of their ability to connect and network with the relevant people.
Seema Bangia, chief people officer, Mahindra Defence System, adds, “We can also identify connector managers by exploring their journey so far and their team size; by finding out whether they were individual contributors; how their team members grew in the team and organisation; and how they deployed resources; and what criteria they used to identify skill sets for the role.”
There are also other skills or traits that help us identify connector managers, because such people are:
Demand driven – They recognise the skills their team members require to stay relevant in the future and today. Also, they will be aware of how technological interventions will impact the business of the organisation.
“We can identify connector managers by exploring their journey so far and their team size; by finding out whether they were individual contributors; how their team members grew in the team and organisation”
Self-aware – While some managers misguide their teams with regular coaching and feedback, connector managers will be aware of their own capabilities and learnings. Therefore, they will ensure that the team members are given accurate guidance. They will encourage their teams to imbibe the required set of skills by either helping them to their capacity or connecting them to the right people who can guide and coach them to get the desired skills.
Understand their employees – Connector managers will get to the root of the problem which is disturbing their team members. They will understand what kind of challenges their employees are facing and what kind of support they need to overcome them.
Apart from hiring, a company can also build and develop connector managers in their organisation.
First, the organisation can encourage them to brand themselves and create an image of a thought leader. This will allow them to build network.
A company can also put leaders into a peer coaching programme, where they get to find solutions and solve problems through discussions with other leaders in the company. This will allow them to build a network internally.
While hiring leaders or developing people in leadership roles, it is natural for employers to seek out people with certain skills which are necessary for the role. But a connector manager is someone who can build leaders for the future.
“When you want to create best employee experiences, it is very important to look for a leader who can further create future leaders,” concludes Bangia.