Other People at Work REALLY Matter

Contribution Respect Teamwork


Key Point: The data suggests that most people now joining the workforce in western countries could have more than 10 different jobs in their careers. So with all that change, does it make sense to REALLY get to know, care for and invest in the people we work with? Here is one data point that could influence your thinking on this question.

“A Harvard study that followed 268 sophomores from the late 1930s and early 1940s over the course of their adult lives showed that the single most important predictor of successful aging, defined by physical and mental health and satisfaction with life at age 75, wasn’t cholesterol level, treadmill endurance or intelligence. It was having close relationships. Based on the extensive data collected over seven decades, the author concluded: “The only things that matter in life are your relations to other people.”

I have enjoyed working with 9 different companies in three different countries over 42 years since completing my undergraduate work. I have literally loved working with almost all teammates in every organization. (Yes, there are a few exceptions). And I can sincerely state that I have stayed connected to people from each one of these organizations. The investment I’ve put in caring and getting to know them is more than worth it, even though in many cases, I see or talk to them all too rarely. I genuinely miss my concentrated working time with them. My relationships with the people I have worked with help define whether I have added any real value to the world. So while the Harvard study refers to the wider spectrum of relationships, especially family and friends, I believe our relationships at work have a very positive impact on our well being and sense of contribution. 

Character Moves:

  1. Remind yourself that even though your tenure in companies is unpredictable and uncertain, the relationship between you and teammates is important and sustainable (if you work at it).
  2. It is not a trivial matter to invest in the relationships of those you work around you. If you care, you will come to know them in a deeply personal way. You will know who and what is important to them, (e.g., do you know the names of their partners and kids)? This includes who and what they love. This takes much personal energy and is an investment. Even if you, as a boss, might have to fire them one day, getting to know your entire team is imperative.
  3. Of course the deep, personal relationships you develop will ideally extend well beyond the people you work with. But the people you work with make up much of your daily life. They are worthy of your personal and authentic care. And do not be a “Matcher” by expecting reciprocal care and attention. Be strong and generous enough to invest and care about them without expecting reciprocity. Just give of yourself. Why?
  4. According to the data of the Harvard study, the ultimate winner when you invest in others is none other than you and your wellness. 

Work relationships matter in the Triangle,