According to a new leadership study released by Leadership IQ, a leadership consultancy, most employees shy away from spending as much time as they should be spending with their direct supervisors. The study is titled “Optimal Hours with the Boss”. The study provides that “most people spend only half the time they should be spending with their boss”, and that empoloyees who do spend an optimal number of hours interacting with their direct leader (six hours per week) are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative, and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week.
“However, it turns out that there can be too much of a good thing,” the study argues. When people spend more than six hours per week interacting with their leader, diminishing returns are shown in terms of building inspiration, engagement and motivation. While there may be other benefits to interacting with one’s leader more than six hours per week, this study shows levels of inspiration or engagement remain the same or declined beyond six hours of interaction. The only exception to this is seen in innovation, which shows spikes at 11-15 hours, and again at 20+ hours spent with their leader.
Of the many ways employees communicate with their leaders (face-to-face, email, phone, video conferencing, texting, social media, etc.), face-to-face and email are by far the most common. These modes shifted as respondents spent more time interacting in person with their leader. Most notably, among people who only spend one hour per week interacting with their leader, 33% of that time is spent in face-to-face interaction and 42% is spent via email. By contrast, those who spend six hours per week interacting with their leader spend much more of their time (48%) in face-to-face interactions, and much less of their time (27%) interacting via email. So the findings indicate that not only is the amount of time spent interacting with one’s leader important, but increasing the percentage of face-to-face interaction matters as well.
While it might have been expected that senior executives and middle managers would need less time interacting with their leader than frontline employees do, the study found that the opposite is true. Executives experienced their highest levels of inspiration when spending 7-8 hours per week interacting with their leader, while middle managers felt their highest levels of inspiration when spending 9-10 hours per week doing so.
The company compiled these results after surveying 32,410 American and Canadian executives, managers and employees from January-May 2014. Respondents were invited to complete an online assessment comprised of 127 questions, and respondents were drawn from a wide range of industries, ages, and organizational and compensation levels.
“Face-time matters for both leaders and employees alike,” notes Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ. “Leaders who aim to improve their direct reports’ level of engagement, motivation, inspiration or innovation need to assess whether they’re spending enough time interacting with them. Likewise, if you’re looking for a promotion by shining on these same criteria, one best bet is to spend the right amount of time with your boss.”