My supervisor ignores me.”

Bernie, a budding engineer apprentice, was getting used to working

with all types of people on project-management teams. He seemed to

“fit in” wherever he was assigned and built good relationships. Recently,

however, because of a realignment of personnel, Bernie was transferred

(against his wishes) to the traffic department. In his new assignment,

he would have to build seven horizontal relationships and one vertical

relationship. Bernie was the junior member of the department. All the
other employees, including the supervisor, were much older than he.
After one week in the new department, Bernie discovered that it was
difficult to approach his supervisor Gloria, let alone talk to her. Bernie
also found that Gloria stayed aloof from the workers in the department

and that she often seemed critical of most people. Bernie could feel a

psychological barrier between his boss and the rest of the department

employees. Once a week, Gloria held a short staff meeting. In Bernie’s
first departmental meeting with Gloria and coworkers, he observed that
most of the employees were silent and even seemed somewhat hostile.

How could Bernie build a strong, worthwhile vertical relationship
with his boss, whose nature was so distant, within an environment
that was so structured? Wouldn’t he be wiser to concentrate exclusively on horizontal relationships until an opportunity presented itself
to establish a better relationship with Gloria? After giving the matter
some serious thought, Bernie decided to concentrate on horizontal
relationships and weather it out.

A. Discuss: Was this a smart decision on Bernie’s part? Would you
have gone about it differently? Support your point of View.

B. Expand Your Understanding: Research the topic of building work
(career) relationships. Contrast similarities and differences between
the importance of building relationships vertically versus horizon-
tally. Discuss the significance of communication and how much a
conscious effort plays into building strong relationships. Support your
research by citing sources from books, magazines, and the Internet.
Draw some conclusions about your findings to share with Bernie.

*Discuss: Was this a Smart decision on Bernie’s part?
*Would you have gone about it differently?
*Support your point of view.
*Expand your understanding: research the topic of building work (career) relationships.
*Contrast similarities and differences between the importance of building relationships vertically versus horizontally.
*Discuss the significance of communication and how much a conscious effort plays into building strong relationships.
*Support your research by citing sources from books, magazines, and the internet.
*Draw some conclusion about your findings to share with Bernie.

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