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The Connector Manager – A book review

by Mark P. McDonald  |  October 26, 2019  |  1 Comment

Organizations face a constant challenge to build the right skills in their people.  Employees see their manager as a critical player in building those skills, but managers rather themselves as not having the time or skills to build those skills.  This conundrum creates a need for a new management mandate.  That mandate is the focus of The Connector Manager a new book from Jamie Roca and Sari Wilde that provides a point of view on how to fix it.

The answer is simple, become a connector manager: one who introduces employees to other people for coaching and development and creates a positive team environment while providing targeted feedback to employees.  This conclusion is based on the results of a  survey of more than 7,000 employees around the world regarding their and their manager’s effectiveness.

A connector manager is one of four types of managers discussed in the book.  The others are:

  • Teachers – managers who develop employees through personal expertise and experience, provides advice-oriented feedback, and directs employee development.
  • Cheerleaders – managers who take a hands-off approach to development, gives empowering positive feedback, and enables employees to take development into their own hands.
  • Always On – managers who provide continuous, frequent coaching, drives employees’ development, and gives feedback across a breadth of skills
  • Always on managers are the most often sought out by executives.  They are looking for managers to engage with their teams and drive results.  The challenge is that always on managers are the worst, actually detracting employee performance by 8%.

Connector managers are the most effective according to the survey where they are 26% more likely to support high performing employees.   The rest of the book is dedicated to explaining the need for connector managers and how you become one.

Overall, the book makes a clear case for managers who concentrate on creating connections with their people, teams and across the organization in the context of skill building and employee performance.

Recommended for managers and HR professionals who face the need to organically build skills within their workforce.


  • Use of case stories and illustrations of different managers, the challenges they face and the actions they tool.  The stories provide a way to anchor the ideas presented in the book into reality.
  • Structured approach, the book is very organized and focused on advocacy for and the process to become a ‘connector’ manager.  The result is a book that consistently raises questions and resolves them in the next paragraph or chapter.
  • The appendix contains some ready to use tools and assessments that help you identify which type of manager you are, an action plan for becoming a connector manager and a connector manager tool kit.


  • The book is narrowly focused on how managers build skills in their teams and then on one way of building those skills – the connector manager.  This gives the book a strong bias to the reader that there is no other way to be a successful than to follow Roca and Wilde’s prescriptions.
  • The book starts with a few findings from their study of 7,000 employees in the first chapter to support their focus on the connector manager.  The study results and data is not used in the later chapters. This reduces the strength of the arguments as they become grounded in experience and observation rather than data and findings.

The Connector Manager – Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: What type of manager are you?
  • Chapter 2: Limits of the always on manager
  • Chapter 3: The connector manager
  • Chapter 4: The employee connection: (really) get to know your employees
  • Chapter 5: The team connection: make development a team sport
  • Chapter 6: The organization connection: ensure better – not just more – connections
  • Chapter 7: Creating a connector company


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Category: book-review  current-and-future-leadership  driving-digital-business-transformation-for-industry-leadership-human-resources  employee-experience  human-resources  

Mark McDonald
VP Analyst
12 years at Gartner
33 years IT Industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Connector Manager – A book review

  1. thank you for your awesome post

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