Perceptions and emotional experiences in differential supervisor-subordinate relationships
Purpose - The purpose of this research is to examine how employees perceive the differential quality of relationships with their supervisors, and their emotional experiences within the leader-member exchange (LMX) process for these differential relationships. Design/methodology/approach - This qualitative study presents the interview findings of 25 full-time employees working within five teams in two organizations. Findings - The qualitative results revealed a consistent pattern of descriptors used by employees to differentially describe their high-quality and low-quality LMX relationships. A range of positive and negative emotions were experienced within the context of the LMX relationship and individuals reported different levels of positive and negative emotions for high-quality versus low-quality LMX relationships. Research limitations/implications - A limitation is the reliance on self-reports of the subordinate (not leader) in terms of the role of emotions in the LMX process. Practical implications - The authors contend that these findings increase understanding of the role of emotion in supervisor-subordinate relationships and how this is reflected in relationships of differential quality. The findings also suggest ways to enhance the quality of leader member exchanges and ultimately improve employee experiences. Originality/value - Although the role of emotions in LMX has been theorized, this study is one of the first to use a workplace sample to empirically and qualitatively examine the role of emotions in supervisor-subordinate relationships of differential quality.
Leadership & Organization Development Journal