4 Dimensions of Relational Work
(Butler and Waldroop)

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The 4 Dimensions of Relational Work of Timothy Butler and James Waldroop is presented in the HBR of June 2004. According to Butler and Waldroop, interpersonal common sense is critical in almost any area of business.

Basically, Managers can boost productivity by:

  • By hiring the right employees.
  • By making the best work (project) assignments.
  • By rewarding performance in the right way.
  • By promoting career development.

No wonder most managers think they know which of their people are good at dealing with interpersonal relations and which aren't. Although this may seem obvious, Waldroop and Butler say one should distinguish between 4 types of relational interests and skills:

The 4 Dimensions of Relational Work are:

  1. Influence: Professionals who enjoy developing and extending their sphere of interpersonal influence. They take pleasure in persuasion, negotiation and the power of holding valuable information and ideas. Typical for Sales Managers, Marketing Managers, Negotiators and Mergers and Acquisitions dealmakers.
  2. Interpersonal Facilitation: People that are keenly attuned to the interpersonal aspects of work situations. They intuitively focus on experiences of other people and they operate usually quietly behind the scenes. In this way they keep their colleagues committed and engaged so that projects run smoothly. Typical for Human Resources managers. Compare also: Intervention Styles
  3. Relational Creativity: People who are good at making connections with groups of people through visual and verbal imagery. Typical for advertising people and brand managers.
  4. Team Leadership: These are people that want to see other people, and interact with them. They like managing and working in high-energy teams in hectic service environments. Typical for Program Managers and Managers of Direct Service Delivery Units.

These four Dimensions of Relational Work are not discrete types; a person can have great interest and skill in two or more areas or in none of them. Also scoring high in one dimension may be detrimental to other areas and to certain types of work.

All 4 types of relational work contribute to the bottom line (financial capital and intellectual capital) and should be rewarded. Certain types of people will be sensitive to specific types of (non-)financial rewards. Senior Managers working on corporate strategy and financial performance are advised to remain sufficiently attentive to relational work: a business strategy is only as good as the people and teams who carry it out...

Book: Timothy Butler Ph.D., James Waldroop Ph.D. - Discovering Your Career in Business 

Book: Patrick M. Lencioni - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

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Compare with the 4 Dimensions of Relational Work:  ERG Theory  |  Coaching  |  Mentoring  |  Emotional Intelligence  |  Leadership Pipeline  |  Path-Goal Theory  |  Six Change Approaches  |  Seven Habits  |  Seven Surprises  |  PAEI  |  Johari Window  |  Intervention Styles

Return to Management Hub: Change & Organization  |  Communication & Skills  |  Human Resources  |  Leadership  |  Program & Project Management

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