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Are you scheduling in enough interaction time with your team?

New research by research and management consulting firm Leadership IQ has discovered that six hours per week is the prime amount of employee / manager interaction time for optimum working results. However, worryingly most employees do not seem to be reaching half this optimal amount.

This research report of over 30,000 U.S. and Canadian executives, managers and employees found those who were spending six hours per week with their manager were 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend only one hour per week. The study took into account feelings towards bosses to determine whether those who reported these more positive feelings at work were those who viewed their manager most positively. However, the findings show that even those employees who had a more unfavourable view of their manager, reported higher levels of inspiration and engagement with the more time spent with their boss.

What kind of engagements are taking place I hear you ask! The most common type of interactions were found to be email and face-to-face, whose levels shifted depending on how much time was spent with a manager. Leadership IQ found that from those respondents who only spent an hour with their boss, 33% of their time is spent in face-to-face interaction and 42% is spent via email. Compare this to employees who spent the optimum of six hours per week with their manager and we learn that 48% of time is in face-to-face interactions and much less of their time – 27%, is over email. This indicates that although increasing the quantity of time spent with employees is important, increasing the quality of time you spend with them is also an important factor.

Getting the balance correct is important as the research found that those who had more than six hours face time with their manager showed ‘diminishing returns in terms of building inspiration, engagement and motivation.’ Setting aside six hours per week to interaction time with your team members sounds a lot, especially if you have more than one direct report, and may even sound completely infeasible with your time and resources constraints. This could be why half of respondents only spend three hours or less interacting with their direct leaders and 20% reported spending only about an hour. A collaboration of you as a manager understanding the importance and necessity of frequent interactions and openly encouraging employees to be proactive in arranging interactions is the key. You may find it useful when planning out your week to block out some time for interactions and communications with your direct reports so it is already included in your week’s schedule. Long drawn out meetings are not necessary, short catch-ups at the beginning or end of the day to track progress and discuss any issues would result in tremendous changes and increases in inspiration, engagement, innovation and motivation levels.

How many hours a week do you set aside for team interactions? Do you see engagement and inspiration levels increase with more interaction time, in not only your team, but yourself?