I’m providing depth and insight to each of Gartner’s four manager profiles. Start here to learn why this research suggests an evolution in our approach to employee development.
Who is the Teacher Manager?
Teacher and Cheerleader Managers stand in the middle of the profile pack, making up half of managers today. These manager types aren’t necessarily damaging to performance, but they don’t impact enough of their reps to build quota-crushing teams. Today I’ll focus on the Teacher, the second least effective manager type, garnering a 7% improvement to their team’s performance.
Gartner defines this manager type as one who “develops employees through personal expertise and experience, provides advice-oriented feedback, and directs employee development.”
Sounds fairly innocuous, right? We can all appreciate the manager who serves as a mentor and has excellent stories to share. As a frontline manager, you may have had a mentor who taught you the ropes, and now you want to pay it forward..
Now, before I go on, I want to emphasize that this in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. Indeed, reps report that personal anecdotes and advice can be helpful in navigating a particular scenario while selling — but ONLY if it is delivered in a way that does not imply condescension, lack of understanding for differences in their manager’s past with the rep’s present, and which doesn’t seem all, you know, “when I was a lad…”
Teacher Managers can be recognized by a few common characteristics. The Teacher Manager commonly:
- Carries a “deep legacy” as a recognized subject matter expert in their previous roles
- Directs his reps’ development based on this legacy of personal expertise
- Creates “mini me”s of each rep they manage in order to continue their legacy (inadvertently or not)
How these individuals came to be managers isn’t all that surprising. These were often the A-players of the past. Having developed exceptional functional expertise early-on, they may have been put on a fast track to management, and the rest is history.
So, What’s Wrong With Teacher-Style Management?
In and of itself, nothing is wrong with sharing legacy knowledge and expertise with reps. But there’s a fine line between teaching and preaching.
When a manager inundates a rep with personal strategies for how something should be done, it can A) overwhelm a rep with “this is how I did it” talk that may or may not be relevant to the situation or connect with the reps needs B) cause the rep to use their manager as a crutch instead of a coach.
The Teacher Manager has been deeply entrenched within their previous role, and perhaps because of this, they are the manager type with the least amount of role diversity. As “The Connector” puts it, Teacher Managers are “inclined to stay put.” For their reps, this can translate to a manager who may be insanely good across certain skills they leveraged as a rep but not have much experience across other key skills needed to perform in the role their reps are being asked to play today, What happens for example when your company implements a new sales methodology but it’s not the one the Teacher Manager knows like the back of their hand?
We all know Teacher Managers and they are absolutely well intentioned in their approach. With a little more self-awareness to diagnose their reps needs, realize they may not be the right resource to “teach” everything, and make better connections across the team, the Teacher Manager can drive an incremental lift in team-wide performance.
Make the shift. Download our free template to build a Remote Manager Playbook that will convert all of your managers into Connectors.