The exact number of hours bosses should spend with employees per week

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Employees are like finicky plants that need exactly the right amount of water.

Pay too much attention to your staff and you’re accused of micromanaging. Pay not enough and you’re aloof. Pay just enough attention and they blossom. How much time should employers spend interacting with employees? Is there a magic number? Apparently, yes: six hours a week.

This comes from new research by the people at Leadership IQ, who found that employees who spend an average of six hours a week interacting with their managers are more inspired and engaged than those who spend one hour a week or less.

Leadership IQ surveyed 32,410 American and Canadian executives, managers and employees about how much time they spend interacting with the boss and how much time they should spend interacting with the boss for optimal engagement, inspiration and motivation.

Here’s what they found:

  • Nearly half of people spend three or fewer hours per week interacting with their direct leader. Twenty per cent spend just one hour per week interacting with their direct leader. Fewer than 30% of people spend six or more hours per week with their direct leader. The median time spent is three hours.
  • Three hours is not enough. For the 32,410 people in the study, the optimal amount of time to spend with a direct leader was six hours.
  • People who spend six hours per week interacting with their leaders are 29% more inspired, 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative, and 15% more intrinsically motivated than those who spend just one hour.
  • Managers and executives need even more time. Executives experienced their highest levels of inspiration when they spent 7-8 hours per week with their leader, and middle managers did best at 9-10 hours per week.

Interestingly, while charts show clear upward trends between 1-6 hours, the improvement levels off, and in some cases even declines after more than six hours, suggesting that there should be a cap.

“I’m not exactly sure why six is the magic number,” said Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, according to Fast Company. “That could be how long it takes to get through some of the basics.” Beyond that it might begin to feel like micro management.

Interaction included email, phone, video conferencing, texting, social media, and other methods. Face to face and email were the most common.

People who spent just one hour interacting with their leader spent 33% of that time communicating face to face and 42% via email. Those who spent six hours, however, spent 48% of that time face to face and only 27% communicating through email.

The authors say, “So, it appears that not only is the amount of time spent interacting with one’s leader important but the percentage of face-to-face interaction matters as well.

Hey, why not take your employees out to lunch every couple of weeks? You gotta eat. And your staff will be more engaged and inspired.