Check your emails less frequently to be a better boss. Distractions from email can influence managers, their productivity and their performance as leaders, reports a new study.
The findings showed that while employees spend more than 90 minutes every day or seven-and-a-half hours every week recovering from email interruptions, managers' distractions have far-reaching implications.
‘Keeping up with email traffic places a great demand on managers, hindering them from accomplishing goals and from being competent leaders.’
"Like most tools, email is useful, but it can become disruptive and even damaging if used excessively or inappropriately," said Russell Johnson, Professor at the Michigan State University in the US.
"When managers are the ones trying to recover from email interruptions, they fail to meet their goals, they neglect manager-responsibilities, and their subordinates don't have the leadership behavior they need to thrive," he added.
For the study, the team collected surveys from a group of managers twice a day for two weeks.
On days when managers reported high email demands, they reported lower perceived work progress as a result, and in turn engage in fewer effective leader behaviors.
Beyond failing to complete their responsibilities, email distractions cause subordinates to suffer from a lack of leader behaviours or those that motivate and inspire, the findings, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, showed.
"When managers reduce their leader behavior and structure behaviors, it has been shown that employees' task performance, work satisfaction, organizational commitment, intrinsic motivation and engagement all decrease, and employees' stress and negative emotions increase," Johnson said.
Importantly, leader behavior has a strong correlation to employee performance which, unfortunately, were the behaviors that got put on the back burner because of email distractions, Johnson said.
"The moral of the story is that managers need to set aside specific times to check email. This puts the manager in control rather than reacting whenever a new message appears in the inbox, which wrestles control away from the manager," Johnson suggested.