If I were to ask how many hours you should spend with your boss every week for maximum job satisfaction, you’d probably think it varies from person to person. People who see their managers as mentors would like to spend nearly every minute by their side, while those with a less-than-perfect relationship would rather avoid them all together.
Surprisingly, there’s a sweet spot across the board: six hours a week.
In a recent study by Leadership IQ, 32,410 American and Canadian executives, managers, and employees were asked to fill out a survey with questions related to how much time they spend with their direct managers, how they interact with their managers during that time, and general questions about how they feel about their work enjoyment and output. They found a correlation between people who spent more time with their managers with higher levels of inspiration, engagement, innovation, and instristic motivation—to a point.
Specifically, those who spent approximately six hours interacting with their direct leaders were more likely to feel inspired to do their best work, more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work, more likely to generate more new ideas every week, and more likely to generally be interested in the work that they’re doing—even among people who didn’t particularly like their managers. Beyond six hours, though, they saw diminishing returns for the time invested; too much time together can be counterproductive at best, and irritating at worst (micromanager, anyone?).
Moreover, they found that devoting more of that time to face-to-face interaction—rather than over email—was important to improving employee outcomes.
Unfortunately, the study also discovered that not many workers are getting this important time with their managers: Nearly half of respondents were only getting three or fewer hours of time their direct leaders, with only 4% hitting the magic number six.
So, what can you do if you’re part of the majority not getting enough quality boss time? Here are a few ways to up your hours of interaction without seeming needy:
- Suggest a regular check-in with your boss. Whether it’s once a day or once a week will depend on your role and organization, but having a set time to sit down and talk about the status of your projects or ask any questions can be a nice way to up your quota.
- Ask your manager if you can have a monthly informal performance review. It might sound stressful, but not only will this give you more face time with your boss, it will also tip you off to any issues that might negatively affect your real review down the line—giving you plenty of time to correct them.
- Next time you’re going out to grab coffee or running to lunch, ask your boss if she wants to come along. Sure, this time will be more casual—and you might not even talk about work—but it’s still valuable for building up your professional relationship.
- Invite your manager to the next industry or networking event you’re planning on attending. You can wing each other at the event, and if it’s dull at least you’ll get to spend some time together.
A final note: If you’re only getting a few hours of time with your boss, don’t expect to ramp up to six immediately. But by adding a little bit here and there, you’ll get to the perfect amount in no time.