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Confidential conversations between supervisor and employee as a means for improving leadership: a quasi-experimental study in hospital wards

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Although yearly confidential conversations between a supervisor and an employee have been recommended as a means for improving leadership, evidence on the actual effects of these conversations has been lacking. The present study therefore investigated whether confidential conversations improve perceptions of goal clarity, sufficiency of feedback and innovativeness, and elicit satisfaction with the supervisor's leadership style within the hospital setting. Nine wards were divided into one experimental group (3 wards) and two control groups (3+3 wards). A questionnaire on goal clarity, feedback, innovativeness and satisfaction was administered twice to every group (1st measurement: n=186, 2nd measurement: n=163). The experimental group began confidential conversations after the first measurement, control group 1 entered into conversations during both measurements, and control group 2 did not enter into conversations at the time of either measurement. Confidential conversations improved perceived feedback. In both measurements, the sufficiency of feedback was reported to be significantly better in the groups having conversations than in the other groups. In addition, there was a significant positive change in the perceived sufficiency of feedback in the experimental group but not in the other groups. Confidential conversations did not affect the perceptions of goal clarity and innovativeness or elicit satisfaction with the supervisor's management style.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Vantaa, Finland

Publication date: November 1, 1996

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