Understanding Office Dynamics and Employee Relationships

Employee Relationships

One of the biggest challenges for any employer is navigating the office place – a melting pot of different people from varying backgrounds with a plethora of personality types. How do you appeal to everyone? How do you keep morale high? What is the secret to running an effective workplace?

Managing Employees is about Defining Relationships

A recent study led by Michigan State University (MSU) business scholars found employees are more motivated if they see eye to eye with their boss about where their relationship stands.

“Seeing eye-to-eye about the employee-supervisor relationship is equally, if not more important than the actual quality of the relationship,” said Fadel Matta, lead investigator on the study and a management researcher in MSU’s Broad College of Business.

In fact, motivation remained high, and the employee was more willing to go above and beyond his or her job duties, when the worker and supervisor saw eye-to-eye about the relationship, even when it was poor.

Motivation only “suffered when an employee believed he or she had a good relationship with the boss but the boss saw it differently,” says Andion Henion, et al.

So, it is not the quality of the relationship that matters most, but, rather, transparency. Employees want to know where they stand and, if the relationship is viewed as poor, how they can improve.

“Some people would say it’s better to fake it, but our results indicate that the opposite is true,” says Fadel Matta, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Management. “At the end of the day, it’s better for everyone to know where they stand and how they feel about each other.”

Building Strong Employee Relationships

When it comes to managing employees, you can teach an old dog new tricks. “Leadership is not a personality style; it is a learned set of skills attained through development opportunities that are integrated to a lifestyle of learning,” says researcher Katherine T. Whitnah. “In the same way that naturally occurring events create changes for an organization, an organization has the ability to create a team building event that contributes to a culture of dynamic leaders who naturally adapt and respond to change.”

So, the big question is HOW  do you create an office environment conducive to good employee-employer relationships? Well, here are a few positive steps you can take:

  • Encourage open communication. According to studies conducted by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory, communication is one of the most important factors of any successful team, and 86 percent of employees blame lack of good communication and collaboration for workplace failures. “Employees can experience an increase in morale, productivity and commitment if they are able to communicate up and down the communication chain in an organization,” says  Jennifer Lombardo, study.com. According to the University of Oregon’s Holden Leadership Center, businesses should strive for open communication between employees and management.
  • Set reasonable goals for both the organization and individual employees. “Once a team is created and its composition is established, the next team leadership function is to define the team’s mission,” write researchers Frederick P. Morgeson, D. Scott DeRue, and Elizabeth P. Karam. This gives employees and employers a common goal that will help to better define roles and, ultimately, the relationship. “Conflict arises from the clash of perceptions, goals, or values in an arena where people care about the outcome,” says researcher Tony Alessandra.
  • Collaboration builds trust and leads to great ideas. According to the Cisco Collaboration Work Practice Study, a qualitative, ethnographic, global research study of collaboration at Cisco, an American multinational technology company, “Working together and having multifaceted perspectives trumps working alone and often leads to idea propagation.”


“Clearly, building meaningful relationships in the office can have a positive impact on job satisfaction and, as a result, success,” says Andre Lavoie, CEO of ClearCompany.

Team Building Can Help Foster Good Employee-Employer Relationships

“Spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal  allows bonding to happen more organically and far more effectively,” says O2E Brands founder and CEO Brian Scudamore. “Team building is the most important investment you can make for your people.”

At Terrapin Adventures, we can help you and your team grow through a series of exciting and carefully designed Corporate Team Building activities. Each activity is led by one of our experienced facilitators, who will not only help guide your experience, but also tie the lessons back into the workplace.

Team building “can also be adventurous and enjoyable if you do it with a little pizzazz,” says Scudamore. “The most successful, memorable team-building events are ones that don’t feel like a day at the office.”

Request a Quote for Your Corporate Team Building Adventure!

After each team building exercise, your group will sit down with their facilitator to discuss the lessons behind each activity and how they translate to the business world. This discussion is designed to reinforce these lessons and help ensure that the progress made during your team building outing sticks.

If you have any questions, please call Terrapin Adventure at 301.725.1313, or email us at info@terrapinadventures.com to learn more.

Works Cited

  1. Henion , Andy, et al. “Trouble with your boss? Own it.” MSUToday, Michigan State University, 21 Nov. 2014, msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/trouble-with-your-boss-own-it/.
  2. Lavoie, Andre. “How to Build Meaningful Relationships in the Workplace.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 01 Sept. 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
  3. Scudamore, Brian. “Why Team Building Is The Most Important Investment You’ll Make.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 07 July 2017.
  4. Whitnah, Katherine T. A Phenomenological Inquiry: In the Context of Organizational Development, How Does Experiential Team Building in the Form of a High ROPES Course, Contribute to Positive Leadership Development, and How Can It Be Improved? Adler Graduate School. Web.
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