The Work of Relationships

Charles Handy, the renowned Management Guru, author of many Organisational Thinking books and indeed Kildare-bred Irishman, provided a keynote speech to Relationship Ireland on June 28th 2012 entitled ‘The Changing Shape of Work and Home’. His focus was on how we are learning to cope with the ‘new normal’ that capitalist driven, target-filled and performance-insistent organisations are creating. It has made us extremely busy individuals, with limited space and seemingly no time for anything but our own anxiety about how to produce the next work output. Whilst we’re hugely occupied worrying about ourselves and our individual deliverables, it is our relationships, both at home and work, that take the back seat. But is social productivity that important?

In his 1995 book ‘Beyond Uncertainty’, Charles Handy reflected that in his life he had “moved from certainty, through an excitement with individual potential in an uncertain world” to what he then described as “a necessary compromise between ‘T’ and ‘they’ to make a ‘we’ in every sphere of life”. His personal odyssey seems to describe the process of growing up, knowing you have the safety of your home, parents family, through teenage years where the world is moving, and into adulthood, where good relationships are the food of life. Organisations are the same, as they grow sales of their sought after products/services, business life can be frantic and time investment titanic. To mature and produce more groundbreaking offerings, the social fabric of relationships is vital to create learning, motivation, innovative approaches and human sustenance which will keep the organisation breathing – and of course nourishing its employees & their families!

The concept of Flourishing was introduced by another influential Irish Thinker - Maureen Gaffney. In her 2011 book, she spoke of flourishing as an internally connected state where our plans, desires and actions are all firmly rooted in our fully conscious and self-determined meaning/purpose, and we achieve. Through appreciating our emotions we are all able to access this resilient, optimistic and creative place. As emotional places, relationships serve to present us with feedback on our feelings, and so help us to flourish. If organisations put a firm focus on meaningful relationships, there’s no reason why they can’t flourish too - which would mean happier people, more contented families, and importantly, stronger productivity.

Maybe you could consider giving time and space to relationships your workplace......