You Should Probably Be Spending More Time With Your Boss

New research suggests the optimum number of hours average employees should spend with their direct leader is about six, but most people are spending about half that time with their boss. Find out why getting in more face time may help you feel more inspired and motivated at work.

If you’re looking for a way to become more engaged in your work, you may want to spend some extra time with your boss—about six hours a week, according to a new study [PDF] from research and management consulting firm 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.

“People who do spend an optimal number of hours interacting with their direct leader (six hours per week) are 29 percent more inspired, 30 percent more engaged, 16 percent more innovative, and 15 percent more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week” with their boss, the company stated in its blog.

Most people don’t spend that much time with their boss, though. The study, which surveyed more than 30,000 U.S. and Canadian executives, managers, and employees, found that about half of the survey respondents spend three hours or less interacting with their direct leaders—20 percent spend about an hour. Fewer than 30 percent spend six or more hours a week with their boss.

“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,” Mark Murphy, founder and CEO of Leadership IQ, said in a statement. “Likewise, if you’re looking for a promotion … one best bet is to spend the right amount of time with your boss.”

Executives and managers may require even more time with their direct leaders, according to the study. Executives, for example, reported they were most inspired after having spent seven to eight hours with their boss. For managers, nine to 10 hours was optimal.

For the average employee, though, six hours appears to be the magic number. After that much time, the positive effects begin to wane.

The study controlled for people’s feelings toward their bosses to determine if those who viewed leaders more favorably were the ones reporting higher levels of inspiration and engagement. The findings indicated that even for employees who felt their boss did not value their work, and therefore they held a somewhat unfavorable view, there was a positive correlation between time spent with a direct leader and feeling inspired.

But all this begs the question: What exactly are those more engaged, inspired, and motivated employees doing with their bosses for six, seven, eight hours a week? The survey didn’t say.

It did break down the types of interactions employees were having with their direct supervisors, and it wasn’t all face-to-face.

For example, for those who spend on average one hour a week with their boss, 33 percent of that time is face-to-face, while 42 percent is via email. Those who spend upwards of six hours with leaders are getting in much more face time—they reported spending almost 50 percent of their time with their boss face-to-face and interacting via email 27 percent of the time—indicating quality in addition to quantity makes a difference in the perceived benefits.

In an average work week of 40 to 50 hours, six hours is a significant chunk of time to spend with your boss (or, if you’re a boss, with each person you supervise). That much time is not always feasible given everyone’s time and resource constraints.

Murphy made this point in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which he said that a lot of managers today are dividing their time among an increasing number of direct reports. Ideally, managers would interact frequently with their employees, but employees should also be proactive in seeking out the time that they want with their boss, he said.

How many hours a week do you spend with your boss? Do you feel more inspired after those interactions? Let us know in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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