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As an “Always-On” Manager, Tech CEOs Will Lose the Next-Generation Workforce

by Rene Buest  |  January 14, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

When presented with the four typical management profiles, 49% of tech CEOs who participated in a recent Gartner Tech CEO Research Circle survey, Talent in the Turns, classified their style as “Always-On” management.

Source: Gartner Tech CEO Research Circle “Talent in the Turns” Survey,

“Always-On” is a natural management profile for CEOs of startup and emerging technology and service providers. The style is very “hands-on” and is categorized by providing continuous and frequent coaching, trying to drive employee engagement, and giving feedback across a breadth of skills. However, 65% of employees agree that managers are ineffective with this management style (source:, for Gartner clients).

Do you agree? What is your management style? Join the discussion with your tech CEO peers and Gartner analysts in the exclusive Gartner Tech CEO Research Circle here:

Considering that by 2025, Gen Z and millennials will comprise 91% of the workforce and around 30% of the workforce will be Gen Z (see Generation Z: How to Lead These Wonderful Young People), tech CEOs must learn how to develop and support connector manager behaviors across their organization to effectively coach the next-generation workforce.

A New Generation of Employees Expects A New Management Style

The most important factor in the development employees get on the job is their manager. The next generation knows this: Thirty-three percent of the Gen Z workforce rank manager quality as a top reason to leave their current job in 2017, versus only 22% of millennials aged 21 to 24 in 2013.

In small and midsize businesses, while the CEO may no longer be the direct manager to all associates, he or she sets the tone for management practices and expectations by his or her own example. While every tech CEO has a unique approach toward employee coaching and development, Gartner research has uncovered four distinct profiles that encompass all management styles: always-on, connector, teacher, and cheerleader.

  1. Always On: Provide continuous, frequent coaching, drive their employees’ development and give feedback across a breadth of skills.
  2. Connector: Introduce employees to others for coaching and development and create a positive team environment while providing targeted feedback to their employees.
  3. Teacher: Develop employees based on their own expertise and experience, providing advice-oriented feedback and directing their employees’ development.
  4. Cheerleader: Take a hands-off approach to development, give empowering, positive feedback and enable their employees to direct their own development.

Gartner research shows that Connector Managers improve employee performance the most — by up to 26% — while cheerleader and teacher managers improve performance by only 9% and 7%, respectively. The always-on manager actually adversely affects employee performance, degrading it by up to 8%.

Connector managers are distinguished by their commitment to connecting employees to others for coaching and development, and by creating a positive team development environment. They are crucial to ensuring their employees’ portfolio of skills stays relevant and Gen Z candidates are keeping this in mind as they make important decisions about their careers.

However, the Connector Manager approach to coaching and development should not be misconstrued; the Connector doesn’t just delegate coaching and development activities to others. Connector managers perform many core coaching activities and foster three distinct types of connections — to employee, team and organization.

To learn more about tech CEOs’ plans and postures for Talent in the Turns, and to participate in future surveys and discussions exclusive to tech CEOs, become a member of our Tech CEO Research Circle community here:

About Tech CEO Research Circle
Gartner Tech CEO Research Circle is an exclusive community of leaders in small or medium technology and service provider businesses. The topics covered provide a distinctive view into the unique challenges, needs, and strategies of tech CEOs. Members interact with Gartner on a range of developing research top-of-mind for tech CEOs, including product strategy, customer acquisition, business performance management, and corporate development.

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Additional Resources

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Category: business-performance-management-for-tech-ceos  

Rene Buest
Research Director
2 years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Rene Buest is a Senior Director, Analyst in Gartner's Tech CEO Research and Advisory team. Primary research coverage is infrastructure services and digital operations as well as managed services and intelligent automation. Read Full Bio

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