Four Dimensions of Relational Work

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Four Dimensions of Relational Work: this article explains the Four Dimensions of Relational Work by Timothy Butler and James Waldroop in a practical way. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful team management tool.

Four Dimensions of Relational Work, the introduction

A team functions best, when it consists of different people with various qualities that complement and motivate one another. Composing such a varied team is a very difficult task for a manager. The four dimensions of relational work of Timothy Butler and James Waldroop could help in this and they provide points of reference in the search for employees with various skills and qualities.

What are the Four Dimensions of Relational Work

According to Butler and Waldroop the following Four Dimensions of Relational Work are important: Influence, Interpersonal Facilitation, Relational Creativity and Team leadership.

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They say that it is not about which dimension is represented strongest in a team. Coordination of the dimensions and the entailing cooperation and supplements are much more important. According to Butler and Waldroop the natural powers of each individual surface because of in-fighting.

This causes a better understanding of the group dynamics and team performance which eventually results in an improvement of productivity.

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People with a preference for this dimension are good at influencing others, at negotiating and convincing other people. They like sharing knowledge and ideas and they are good at creating networks.

Interpersonal facilitation

People with a preference for this dimension have a natural talent for supporting and/or helping other people with emotional problems and conflicts.

Relational Creativity

People in this dimension are capable of managing others from a distance and of exercising a positive influence with their creative ideas. They are experts at devising lateral solutions.

Team leadership

People with a preference for this dimension, excel at interacting with other people. They attach much value to cooperation and they see this as the ultimate way to achieve stated objectives.

Four Dimensions of Relational Work : Team composition

When hiring people and composing a team, it is advisable to apply the four dimensions. By identifying someone’s interpersonal skills, their core qualities emerge, which may have a positive effect on the team. It is imperative that you listen carefully to the candidate and that you discover what their personal preferences are. Subsequently, you need to find out which of the four dimensions they are inclined towards. Role-play may be very helpful in this.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is the Four Dimensions of Relational Work theory applicable in today’s modern business environment? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for good team management?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Butler, T. & Waldroop, J. (2004). Understanding “people” people. Harvard Business Review, 78-89.
  2. Butler, T. & Waldroop, J. (2000). Managing away bad habits. Harvard Business Review, 78(5), 89-98.
  3. Butler, T. & Waldroop, J. (1996). The executive as coach. Harvard Business Review, 74(6), 111.

How to cite this article:
Van Vliet, V. (2013). Four Dimensions of Relational Work (Butler). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Published on: 10/22/2013 | Last update: 03/25/2022

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Vincent van Vliet
Article by:

Vincent van Vliet

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.


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