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The 2023 Loyola Busch Lecture: Developing Workplace Relationships

Photo courtesy of Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business

On Oct. 13, Busch Lecture Keynote Speaker Dr. Jessica Methot spoke to students, faculty, and community members about the importance of fostering workplace relationships to improve long-term success. Methot is an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Rutgers University, focused on developing an efficient network of business professionals that meets our current demands of success.

Methot shared in her talk titled, “Why Are Positive Relationships at Work Vital for Success and Well-being?” that “We want to bridge to other groups of people outside those we rely on.” 

The nuances of her talk centered around categorizing people in our professional networks in developing specific projects and initiatives.

She went on to note that, “We can seek out people who aid in creativity, bridge siloed throughout worlds.”

Methot also discussed improving working relationships to sustain positive environments. This was broken down into general focuses within workplace networking, camaraderie, and utilizing opportunities like small talk to maintain partnerships. A part of cultivating these environments involves selecting peers that support goals and initiatives.

“We can think about two different people… considering who is an energizer, the counterpoint is those de-energizers, when we interact with them, we just feel deflated,” Methot’s research indicated. 

The initial takeaways that she left with the audience were to integrate “Organizational Network Analysis” to re-evaluate the cycles of a tenure and oversee our social health by building time to focus on our capacity to connect.

Sellinger’s ranking, Top 25% in the nation for business programs. (Alexis Faison)

Aidan LoBiondo ’24, an accounting student in the Sellinger School of Business, has been a part of various networking opportunities, including Loyola’s Rizzo Career Center’s Meet the Firms, the Sellinger Scholars Seminar course, the Big Four’s KPMG retreat as an incoming intern, and connecting on LinkedIn. LoBiondo shared his reactions to Methot’s ideologies in her lecture, and what he connected with when it came to developing meaningful workplace camaraderie.

“When she mentioned that we are drawn to people like us, that really resonated with me. By getting out of our comfort zone… we may be able to learn from one another and learn about a different sector of the firm or industry,” LoBiondo said. 

Associate Professor of Management Dr. John Michel, the Busch Scholar chair, has researched the topics of workplace fun, interpersonal relationships at work, and leadership and interpersonal influence. In Michel’s third year as chair and his eleventh year at Loyola, his focuses align with Dr. Methot’s research.

“I do quite a bit of research, and I’ve specifically focused on building high-quality connections with the intention of helping organizations find ways of improving commitment but also reducing issues of loneliness and burnout and lower well-being… within academia and also the workplace,” he said.

Michel, as a panelist for the Busch Lecture, named the highlights of Methot’s talk, similar to his contributions in analyzing workplace interactions. Michel knew that Methot’s research would transcend into Loyola’s pillars of curiosity as highlighted by faculty and students.

Dr. John Michel’s office, the 2023 Loyola Busch Scholar. (Alexis Faison)

“One [paper] was on the importance of, on something called the multiplex relationship which is building a relationship at work… that is part coworker… and part friendship.She conducted a study… on small talk at work. Small talk is really important because it’s informal and it’s something that happens between tasks,” Michel said.

Funded by the Anheuser-Busch Foundation and hosted by Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business, the annual Busch Lecture has highlighted business leaders who have contributed to their local communities in scholarship and innovation. The inaugural lecture took place years prior and has since grown into a widely featured event within Loyola’s lecture series. 

Methot’s bigger goal for the takeaway includes “taking a bigger picture perspective where it’s not just a benefit for you.”

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