Tasks, relationships and holidays at work

This week's prescription: Balance tasks with social interactions at work. Photo: New Year in Sydney/Wikipedia

WASHINGTON, January 1, 2014 – Work involves a combination of task-orientation and people-orientation. Those who can balance the two and remain positive in both arenas are probably the most successful workers because they accomplish their assignments while still attending to the people around them.

These days, we have an added detractor from work and social interactions - technology. Technology has replaced a substantial part of social interaction at home and at work, in that it takes something away from relationship building.

Let’s face it: you cannot visibly convey empathy, compassion, support, sweat, generosity, sadness or anger using Twitter, Facebook texting or email. Even if you add in some Emogi or selfies with expression, it is not the same. A hug cannot be delivered in real time through technology.

Those who are highly task-oriented struggle more these days focusing on their people skills. Coworkers, supervisors and high-level leaders must focus on people to obtain loyalty, trust, respect and other traits necessary to accomplish the company’s mission. With little time for relationship building and with the ease of technology at one’s fingertips, the chance for task-oriented people to build relationships at work is dwindling.

Those who are highly people-oriented face real challenges at work to get their job done. In the past, they may have been distracted by live people walking by, getting coffee, or going to lunch. Now, they have the ability to interact in multiple settings – both live and by using technology. This could completely derail a social person’s ability to get tasks accomplished at work. 

How often do you hear stories about people using the Internet inappropriately at work or texting inappropriately at work? These are probably people who spend more time interacting on electronic devices than they should.

SEE RELATED: Holiday parties, holiday resolutions

During the holiday season, both task-oriented and people-oriented workers struggle more. It is harder to balance work and social interactions since both seem to get an extra push this time of the year.

For example, many companies, particularly retailers, must sell more during the end-of-year holidays. Yet their workers may want to feel more appreciated by the company during the holidays, wanting to have the opportunity to spend time with their families and close friends − which may conflict with the company’s sales goals.

As a predominately task-oriented person, I have spent the holiday season looking closely at my staff. They are hard-working, intelligent and nice. They give each task their greatest effort. They are kind toward each other, and me, their boss. As a task-oriented person, I must concentrate on appreciating them. I do this through email, by stopping at their desk to talk with them for a few minutes, and by supporting and attending parties or other get-togethers they throw. I must work on this throughout the year, but it pays off in terms of trust, mutual respect and loyalty.

For those who are predominantly social in nature, they must look closely at their assignments during the holiday season and throughout the year. They must prioritize task completion before social engagements. They must perform their work as they are paid to do, and leave sufficient time to support their team members, their leaders or their staff. 

Balance at work and balance in life is what we all strive for. Let’s make sure our list of 2014 New Year’s resolutions includes this one: balance task completion with appropriate social interactions at work. Do not let technology derail these goals: use technology to your advantage to exceed at both.

Happy New Year!


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Cassi Fields

Dr. Cassi Fields has provided expert opinion on career and workplace issues for nationally recognized media outlets including Forbes, TheStreet TV, MSNBC.com, FOX News Live, US News & World Report, Recruiter.com, WUSA9, News Channel 8, HR.com, and more. Dr. Fields, who received her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from George Washington University, lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.

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