Building Relationships at Work – Why it Matters

Denise Thong
4 min readSep 14, 2017

Relationships Matter

Today’s society is one that values end results. Buzz words like ‘results-oriented’, ‘start with the end in mind’ are aplenty. They float around our resumes and job appraisals conferring to us a sense of self importance and efficiency.

“Peter is a great person to have on the team as he is efficient and results-oriented.”

“Jane is able to meet her targets as she starts with the end in mind.”

Instead of focusing predominantly on achieving results – a manner of working that led me to workplace misery, I would like to encourage you to focus on ‘building relationships’ at work. Here’s why:

1) People are More Important than Results

Every human life is precious and carries with it profound dignity. People should be loved and valued independent of whether they are able to perform their jobs perfectly well.

In the workplace, it is quite common for bosses, peers and even subodinates to ostracise the weaker performers on the team. In some work cultures, such behaviours are even encouraged as a means to motivate the weaker performers to buck up.

I highly advice against such behaviours. This meritocratic way of managing a team causes a negative atmosphere to infiltrate into the team. Every one will be afraid of performing poorly for fear of being singled out and shamed.

Ironically, the more actively one is involved in the bullying of the weak, the more pressure one puts on himself to stay at the top of his game. As a result, the workplace becomes a pressure cooker for both the weak and strong.

No one can stay in a pressure cooker for long, attrition rates will be high and the costs of rehiring workers will substantially increase.

2) Well Loved People Perform Better

When people are exploited and disrespected, they tend to display mercenary traits – (e.g. requesting for overtime pay for every hour spent at work beyond their working hours).

Such workers tend to perform just well enough to keep their jobs. They certainly are not motivated to perform beyond their call of duty.

Conversely, when people are well respected and well loved, they perform beyond their call of duty. They are even motivated to coach the weaker ones on the team to help them reach their full potential.

When leaders inject love and positive energy into the team, such growth happens organically. A positive virtuous cycle is set in motion and it helps everyone to perform at the top of their game.

3) Happy People Attract Talent

Research has shown that most people leave their jobs not because of the dissatisfaction in remuneration but because of poor workplace relationships.

A workplace with a loving and accommodating atmosphere is also more likely to attract talent. With a highly talented staff, the company is more likely to succeed.

4) Well Respected Staff Are More Outspoken

When your staff’s opinions are respected and listened to, they are more likely to share more of their thoughts and concerns. These golden nuggets are precious and crucial for a company to thrive.

Your staff are the hands and feet of your company. The engineers and developers know the products inside out. The sales and support teams know the customers personally. If these teams care enough to offer feedback to management; and their feedback are responded to quickly and correctly, the company is sure to benefit greatly.

Conversely, if feedback is frequently brushed aside and the staff are badly exploited, the golden nuggets will stop coming in and growth would be impeded.

5) Good Relationships Help Build More Good Relationships

Good relationships at work help your staff hone their relationship skills in general. These skills can then be transferred to their homes and other social settings helping them achieve genuine happiness in life. Happy staff = more stability = better output.

Some Thoughts

It has been 4 years since I have taken on full time employment. Strangely, I can still recall vividly the workplace ethics that I employed.

I was a heartless work robot – my main focus was always to produce the best work as I could as quickly as possible and get as much credit as I could for them. I did not mind stepping on many tails to achieve the best results. My belief was that if people were offended by my working style (which they most certainly were), it was their childishness at fault and they should rid themselves of this immaturity.

I was hardworking, efficient and emotionless. Hence, I perceived myself as above reproach.

I have come to see the fault in my ways.

Two months ago, I started attending a sewing class. As expected, I was required to interact with a group of students. Instead of adopting my former workplace ethics, I made conscious effort to make casual conversations with my fellow students.

Of course, as a result, my work was slightly slower than it would have been if I had adopted my former work robot ethics. However, the entire experience was so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Finally I had an epiphany – Ultimately, it is not about how quickly I am able to produce a piece of garment. It is not even about how perfect the garment turns out. It is about the joyful memories that each garment carries with it. Whenever I wear my self made dress, I would be able to recall the playful chatter and giggles amongst my new found friends. That is priceless.

Imagine if companies sourced their raw materials responsibly and products were manufactured in a manner that protected and respected the employees and environment. Wouldn’t these products bear such great positive energy right up to the point they reach the hands of their customers?

Such a world would be a beautiful one indeed.



Denise Thong

Counsellor, Writer (Christianity, Children’s short stories)