The Great Workplace Divide

Take a moment and think about the people in your life. Did you think of someone that you work well with or did you think of someone that drives you nuts?

There is a great divide in the workplace that can be the root of workplace conflict and issues between leaders, managers, and their workforce: it's results-focused people vs. relationship-focused people.

Results-focused people tend to be task focused, less emotional, and less relational. They tend to be more formal, less social, and keep their personal and work lives separate. They are driven by results and making the right decision and prefer to avoid "fluff.” In pursuit of getting their desired result, they can easily become impatient and frustrated with people who they perceive are not as focused and slow them down.

Relationship-focused people tend to be people focused, relational, and more emotional. This can be seen in their passion and enthusiasm when they are excited about something, as well with how they respond to things that frustrate them. They tend to be more informal, more social, and blend their personal and work lives. They are driven by the positive experiences they have with others and are most productive when they feel appreciated and liked. When they don't feel appreciated and harmony with the people around them, they can easily take things too personally, impacting their motivation and productivity.

Are you results focused or relationship focused?

These two types of people can be like oil and water because they don't understand one another.

Results-focused people get easily frustrated with relationship-focused people and say things like:

  • Why are they so emotional?
  • Why can't they just stay focused?
  • Do we need to talk about everything?
  • It's not a big deal.
  • Why are they so needy?

Relationship-focused people become frustrated with results-focused people and say things like:

  • Why are they so serious and uptight?
  • It's not all about money.
  • Don't they care about people?
  • Are they mad at me?
  • They are not very friendly.

Earlier this year, I worked with a top leader who is results-focused and was at his wits' end with a member of his team who is relationship-focused. He didn't understand why she didn't just listen to him and why she overreacted about everything.

When I talked with her, I learned that his direct and cold demeanor made her feel like she was failing and she was starting to feel like she couldn't meet his expectations. At the end of the day, if this top leader wants to get his desired results, he needs to be more relational with her. He needs to show more appreciation and approval as he is giving her direction and expectations. She needs to manage her emotions better, stop taking things so personally, and be more task-focused.

If you can relate to any of this, I challenge you to hit "reset" with the people who frustrate you and try to understand why they do. Also, in the spirit of self-management, understand why you are frustrated. Results-focused people do care about others, they just show it differently. Relationship-focused people do care about the results, they just need to know you have their back. People are different. We have different needs, preferred ways of doing things, weaknesses, and things that stress us out.

These dynamics don't have to create a workplace divide. To achieve success, we must get the best out of ourselves and the people around us. To do this, we must understand, respect, and appreciate what everyone brings to the table in order to maximize everyone's potential together.

That is success skills mastery.

How can you incorporate success skills mastery into your organization?

Jason Kiesau

Jason Kiesau has been studying personal, professional and leadership development for most of his adult life. As the Leadership Developer for Oasis, a Paychex® Company, he travels the country working with leaders in the areas of self-management, relationship building, strategic thinking, and development of high performing teams. Jason's purpose is to inspire confidence in everyone he works with, and he is passionate about helping them pursue and achieve meaningful results.


October 11, 2017

Posted by

Jason Kiesau