Evolving Workplaces: Transitioning to Transformational Relationships

Nov 04, 2022

In discussing this evolving workplace shift, we are really addressing two unique elements – the shift of the employee and employer relationship and the shift of the customer or vendor relationships (the Business-to-Business relationships). Although both are shifting, I want to focus on the relationship between employee and employer.

I recently read an article that Microsoft has changed its language from "Employee engagement" to "Employee thriving" to broaden the expectation they are hoping to achieve with their employees. Rather than just engage employees (something many companies still struggle to do), they want to take it further to helping employees to thrive in their lives (not just at work!). I think this is the perfect example of a transition to a transformational relationship. Microsoft is making the experience of working at Microsoft into something that positively transforms their employees’ lives even if just for a period of time.

What is a transformational relationship?

  • It means you invest in those around you to express that you care about them and that you trust them. Then others invest in your success.
  • It’s more about what you are giving to another purpose to help another person.
  • It's two parties mutually working to improve their relationship quality, which allows you to tap into the discretionary effort of people around you.
  • Create a synergy that advances other people’s goals and creates a win-win solution.
Transformational relationships make the world a better place because when a relationship is not simply a means to an end, it has the potential to be life-changing.

Identifying a Transformational Relationship

  • Everyone feels protected (win/win) – Safe to speak your mind, no fear of judgement or making mistakes, the love help, and support of others allows you to do your best work.
  • There is no “I” in team – Money isn’t everything, appreciation for work well done is commonplace, giving credit is the key.
  • No one keeping score – No one is weighing how much to invest in it based on what has or hasn’t been given in the past.
  •  Feel the love – Love and compassion are evident, sincere commitment to shared success.
  • Cycle of giving and receiving – Gifts freely given.

How do organizations create transformational relationships with employees?

These relationships have to be a genuine part of the culture and woven into the fabric of the organization – you can’t fake it or pretend you have it if you don’t. This means that for a lot of businesses, it's going to require a major culture shift and a new approach to the relationship.

In a previous article, I talked about the key differences between transactional relationships and transformational relationships. As a reminder, here are the differences:

  • Professional (v. friendly)
  • Self-interest (v. mutual interest)
  • What you get (rather than give)
  • Stay in touch (v. keep informed)
  • Understand process (v. understand person)
  • Judge the results (v. evaluate the relationship)
  • Win conflict (v. resolve conflict)
  • Agreement (vs. acceptance)
  • Evaluate results (vs. evaluate how the other feels about results)
No alt text provided for this image

What are the benefits of transformational relationships?

In researching for this topic, I came across many studies that have validated the impact transformational relationships have on innovation, growth, and business results. People who feel their employer cares about them, is committed to their success, understands their internal motivations, where they can be transparent and open, creates the optimum conditions for reaching peak performance. By eliminating the typical hurdles or challenges, this is how the relationships can truly create transformational outcomes or results in the relationship.

How might you re-think the employee agreement or relationship?

Partnership and shared agreements with employees must create commitment, clarity, and constant communication. These shared agreements incorporate all the elements of the evolving workplace framework to create this clarity.

How are shared agreements executed to create and maintain transformational relationships?

  • Shared agreements must be based on a commitment to a core set of principles and specific circumstances that make them viable or appropriate in the first place.
  • Foundationally both parties must be committed to creating mutually beneficial outcomes – the best outcomes possible for them both.
  • Both parties must adhere to a set of guidelines related to integrity, trust, and a willingness to compromise. If one party is insisting on leveraging their power over another, it will not be successful, and results will fail.
  • Both parties must be willing to operate with clarity of process rather than clarity of result. This means that the process for how clarity will be established during the relationship will be clear, but the actual result or outcome will not be clearly defined. This flexibility is required to keep the arrangement fluid and adjustable to respond to changing circumstances in the arrangement.
  • Both parties must explicitly state what they are committing to as part of the relationship.

How does a shared agreement between employer and employee operate?

Commitment: Who is responsible for the ongoing agreement?

  • Both parties must agree to an ongoing approach to reviewing their agreement and making adjustments to this agreement.
  • Please note, this approach is not meant to be a binding employment contract. Employees can remain at-will under those laws with this approach. Instead, this shared agreement is meant to represent a good-faith effort by both parties to agree to how they will operate as employee and employer.
  • It creates clarity for both parties on the commitments they are making as part of the relationship and how they will discuss the relationship throughout their employee experience.

Clarity: What does the employer agree to do to create clarity?

Overall Workplace Expectations: The employer agrees to a set of overall workplace expectations:

  • Establish Grounded Direction – To create clear direction and adhere to the grounded direction practices that allow the employee to gain clarity whenever needed on vision, mission, and strategy.
  • Create an engaging environment and experience – To ensure the culture, values, and impact of the workplace is intentionally described in clear ways for the employee to understand. Any deviation from the defined environment and experience may be addressed and discussed.
  • Flexible Frameworks – To establish which activities are fixed with standard structure and which are projects to be addressed or acted upon with flexibility. To maintain these standard structures and list of projects and create clarity regarding who is responsible for which activities.
  • Monitoring for Success – To establish ways employees will know if they are performing successfully both individually and collectively as a business. These will be tied to the impact they are making rather than specific financial results.
  • Foster Peak Performance – To integrate peak performance practices into all parts of executing the business and support the employee in operating at peak performance.

Manager Expectations: Each manager or leader of people will be responsible for creating their own set of shared expectations with the employee. These can be viewed as co-commitments of what each party is responsible for executing on or working on.

Clarity: What does the employee agree to do to create clarity?

Employee to workplace: The employee agrees to an overall set of workplace expectations:

  • Aligned – To stay aligned with the grounded direction of the workplace and to actively seek discussion when instances of misalignment occur in the workplace.
  • Engaged – To focus on their level of engagement and actively participate in their engagement and that that of others they work with to create the engaging experience for everyone.
  • Execute – To execute on the modes of deliver and frameworks defined using ORGs (Outcomes, Responsibilities, Goals) and projects to identify their outcomes, roles, responsibilities, goals, and projects clearly.
  • Deliver – To deliver by operating at peak performance creating power performance impacts in the workplace and for the customer.
  • Evolve – To continuously evolve their performance as they grow and develop using the four keys to peak performance to grow as the workplace grows.

Communication: How are these agreements communicated?

  • Agreements must be reviewed and created at time of hire.
  • Reviews of the shared agreement must take place at some pre-designated frequency no less than once a year to keep everyone aware of the terms of the arrangement both the expectations and benefits.
  • This review includes both the responsibilities and deliverables of both parties.
  • The more frequently these are incorporated and discussed, the more likely the relationship is to be transformational. Not necessarily to edit a document, but rather to ensure everyone is still operating under the same assumptions and that the relationship is having the transformational effect intended.

Think of these conversations as like “check-ins” with employees.

If we create these agreements with our employees, it will set the stage for building and cultivating these transformational relationships that are more valuable and powerful and result in better outcomes not only in our workplaces, but in our world.

Check out the Evolving to Exceptional Podcast Episode that talks about this topic more in depth here.


To get you started, here are some resources Evolving to Exceptional has to offer:

(1) Take our FREE course on Creating Exceptional Work & Life Experiences

(2) Purchase and read the book The Exceptional Life R-Evolution - available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Audible. You get a free workbook and course with the purchase of the book!

(3) Check out our Free Resources page for workbooks and guides to get you started.

(4) Check out our Peak Performance Certification Program

(5) Listen to the Evolving to Exceptional Podcast to hear our series on "Evolving Workplaces" from the old corporate machines of the past into new living beings!

(6) Get the first few chapters of my new book Fiercely Cherished Beings for FREE. Now available on Amazon!


Interested in Learning More?

To learn about NeuroPerformance and a neuroscience-based approach to living a better life sign up here!

Check out our Neuroscience of Self-Awareness free giveaways including an assessment, strategies handout, webinar, and more!  

Get our Self-Awareness Free Give-aways!

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team!
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.