How Much Do Relationships, Trust, & Fulfillment Matter in the Workplace?

How Much Do Relationships, Trust, & Fulfillment Matter in the Workplace?

Evolving relationship norms and expectations around trust and fulfillment are the underlying forces motivating us to create an Open Source Culture at Armory.

I was reminded of this slide when I saw Esther Perel's Summit talk. She is a psychotherapist who comes from a couples therapy background. Esther has more recently been very focused on relationships in the workplace, saying "Relationship norms are changing rapidly. Relationship intelligence, until recently, was the scourge of the workplace. It has now become foundational. We talk about psychological safety, authenticity, belonging, transparency and trust in the same sentence that we talk about performance reviews."

In her talk, Esther discusses how:

  • Relationship intelligence is the ability to deal with the complexities, nuances and ambiguities of relationships.
  • Employees want a qualitative experience with their peers, managers, and company. It needs to be transformative. It needs to be inspiring. It needs to elicit curiosity. It needs to be meaningful. Esther says "We no longer leave a job because the factory is closing. We leave because we are not being properly promoted, we are not being recognized, we are not being seen, our identity formation is being stunted. We expect our managers to be our coaches, and to help us move up the Maslov hierarchy of needs. We leave for the quality of our life, our relationships, our self development that we expect to meet in those work situations."
  • There are the three main issues that exist underneath a lot of relationship issues and conflict: Power & Control, Closeness & Care and Respect & Recognition.
  • Facts don't matter. It's the human experience of the facts that matter.
  • Thriving relationships are the ones that straddle conflicting needs. "There are relationships that are 'not dead,' and then there are relationships that are 'alive.' You all know them."
  • Trust is is an "active, responsible engagement with the unknown."

Cameron Yarbrough, the CEO of Torch, has a fantastic slide that references the "Three Levels of Conversation." In the workplace, most conversations rarely get past Level 1. It takes real vulnerability to get to Levels 2 & 3. Esther's talk is a crash course in figuring out how to have Level 2 & 3 conversations in the workplace.

Want to go deeper? Esther's background is in couple's therapy. She jokes that couples treat therapy as "a dropoff center -- you bring me your partner, you tell me what is wrong with him or her, and you tell me to fix it" instead of arriving ready to work on themselves. You can dive into that world via her excellent podcast, Where Should We Begin.