Date of Conferral

2017

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Lori Demeter

Abstract

Success of nonprofit human services organizations depends upon the ability to cultivate high quality performance among staff members. Employees of such organizations experience lower job satisfaction when managers disregard their opinions or treat them as unimportant. The purpose of this qualitative, exploratory case study was to explore employees' perspectives on the quality of their relationships with their supervisors and impacts of that perception on job performance. The central research questions regarded how employees understood those relationships and their impact on their work success. Using the framework of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, which centers upon the employee-supervisor relationship, data were collected through interviews with 32 participants including those at a supervisory level and direct-care providers. Archival documents from 2 non-profit human service organizations that reflected upon relationships between supervisors and employees were also utilized. Using Clark and Braun's thematic analysis strategy for coding and analysis, results indicated that manager-employee relationships characterized by themes of respect, understanding, positive interactions, and open communication allowed employees to feel comfortable and valued at work, and that relationships characterized by mutual loyalty, respect, and clear, reciprocal communication were optimal for promoting job performance. This study's potential impact for positive social change includes recommendations to non-profit service organizations to develop future leadership policies and training programs to assist managers and supervisors in improving relationships with their subordinates.