PSYCH ARTICLE

New Year, New Boss Relationship: Own It

Being open about a poor relationship with your boss can improve work performance

Don't get along with your supervisor? A new study finds that job performance may actually improve if the two of you can come to grips with the poor relationship. The Michigan State University study finds that workers are more motivated if they and their supervisors see eye-to-eye about a bad relationship than if they have different views about their relationship.

"Seeing eye-to-eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship," says Fadel Matta, lead investigator on the study. According to the study of 280 employees and their bosses, across a wide range of industries, motivation suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss but the boss saw it differently. The finding held true on the flip side as well—and the two were surveyed separately.

Perhaps surprisingly, employee motivation was higher (meaning the employee was more apt to go above and beyond his or her basic job duties) when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even when it was poor.

Ultimately, it's important that supervisors and workers don't misrepresent how they feel about their relationship.

"Some people would say it's better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true," says Matta. "At the end of the day, it's better for everyone to know where they stand and how they feel about each other."

Image: some rights reserved by Kumar Appaiah

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