Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Relationships at work

December 3rd, 2010 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Part of my job as a professor is to review articles for academic journals.  This process is intended to ensure that all material published in scholarly publications has been vetted by a ‘jury’ of peers.  Today, as part of this service, I read an article about learning and relationships among team members.  It was pretty interesting.

How important are relationships in organizational life?  There are plenty of anecdotes that imply that relationships are paramount – people do not quit companies, they quit managers; my co-workers make it bearable.  These sentiments illustrate the importance of ‘people’ in our work experience.  Up until recently, I am mainly considered these relationships as they are important for the individual – they help us to ‘get by’ at work.

For three summers during my undergraduate, I worked in maintenance for the Board of Education.  I power washed plastic chairs, refinished hardwood gym floors, and steam cleaned classroom carpets. It was horrible work – hot, heavy, and dirty.  I worked on a team with Ferdinando Tantalo, a funny, caring, lovely young man who made it his business to make every day fun and entertaining.  It was one of the best jobs I ever had.  I had only ever thought of Ferdi’s contribution to my work experience as ‘he helped me get through it’ – but really Ferdi kept me engaged at work.  I was the best darn power washer in the business.  We worked hard and we laughed hard.  The positive relationships I had on the job made me want to work harder, be productive, and maintain the ‘positive’ environment that had been created.

The article I read today found that people who are surrounded by positive relationships (i.e., feel supported by team members and by their managers) are more likely to take risks, learn from others in their environment, share their own knowledge, and feel comfortable with change.  In other words, people who have productive relationships at work are better employees.  It is worthwhile for organizations and managers to consider evaluating and actively improving relationships.  It is also worth ensuring that you have a few Ferdinando’s on your team.  Wherever he is, he is making an enormous contribution – not only through his work but through his effect on others.


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