Does Your Boss Give You The Blues?

Topic: Emotional Intelligence, Leadership

Publication: The Journal of Vocational Behavior

Article: Negative emotions in supervisory relationships: the role of relational models.

Author: A.M. Game

Featured by: LitDigger

If you feel negative emotions resulting from your relationship with your boss, a recent article by Game (2008) provides an interesting theoretical explanation.  The author proposes that the employee’s attachment style has something to do with it.  Attachment?!?!  Yes, you might remember this from your developmental psych class… secure, anxious-ambivalence, avoidance…ring a bell?

The researcher found some support for an exploratory model that investigated the possibility that various emotional reactions in employees may be attributed to differences in how supervisory behavior isinterpreted by employees. Such interpretations may be affected by employees’ long history of attachment relationships over their lifetime AND/OR their attachment style regarding their relationship with their supervisor.  The study’s model wasn’t entirely supported, but there were some findings that lead us to conclude that further research investigating the relational context of employee-supervisor relationships is worthwhile if we want to learn more about the nature of employees’ negative emotions.

So (pretend YOU are the employee here), what you believe, perceive, and expect from your relationship with your supervisor may affect the degree to which you feel negative emotions from your supervisory relationship . . . AND your lifetime of experiences with relationships in general may also influence these emotions felt at work.

Do employees have the right to gripe about their boss if that’s the reason they’re feeling blue?  Well, it is safe to say that it IS in the best interest of the organization to find a remedy for negative emotions in the workplace . . . otherwise, the organization is risking other unfavorable outcomes such as employee turnover, lack of motivation, or workplace deviance.  So what’s the moral of the story?

The author suggests that using HR’s resources to help develop secure, supportive, and trusting employee-supervisor relationships may be worth the time and money.  Let’s turn those boss-driven blues into rays of golden sunshine, shall we?

Game, A. M. (2008). Negative emotions in supervisory relationships: the role of relational models. Human Relations,61(3) 355-393.