Work Matters: Relationships First

 

Penguins

If given the choice, what would be your preference: working in an organization that puts tasks to be accomplished ahead of building quality relationships, or one that places the building of relationships as priority over the fulfillment of responsibilities?  It’s an easy question to answer for me: definitely the one that puts quality relationships over task fulfillment. I’ve been in both settings over the years and have seen both the stark contrast between the two and the benefits of a relationship first approach.

 

The contrast can be summarized in one word: culture. A workplace culture that places task over relationship treats individuals mechanistically, as employees who are hired to accomplish a given task or function. As s/he fulfills their stated job description, their contribution is combined with others on the team to complete the larger mission. Instead of a team, this person is a part of a work force or task group with defined outcomes and specified timetable. In addition, the culture of such an organization stresses achievement of goals as the most important measurement.

 

When a workplace culture stresses the development of quality relationships more than the task at hand, then individuals are cared for and cared about beyond the functional role they play on the team. And, it certainly is a place where team development and health is stressed, where each person matters greatly to the completion of the mission. When team members are listened to beyond their stated job responsibility and treated like human beings rather than human doings, then their allegiance to the various members of the team includes both their shared tasks as well as their community relationships.

 

Every leader has a fundamental choice to make in this regard: what will be our organization’s priority, task or relationship? Both task and relationship can and should be attended to, but the tipping of the scale one direction or another is what makes for greater health and strength, agility and creativity, achievement and sense of fulfilled accomplishment. What is your choice today, both as a member of and/or a leader of a team? Having just returned from a 3-day trip with my closest colleague and friend, I’m remembering first and foremost our informal times together when we shared our personal stories, laughed together during meals, prayed, encouraged, listened and spurred one another on toward greater love and service…the quality of our trusting friendship continues to significantly impact our faithfulness and effectiveness in service to others.

 

What is your choice today? Will task continually trump relationship or will building quality relationships come first?