Mutual Reward Theory

Working relationships are a necessary part of life and the functioning of an organization. The quality of these relationships can be measured by the quality of communication that takes place. One of the more important relationships that exist within an organization is the interpersonal relationship. These are the most intimate relationships that we have with other people in the workplace.

In a true interpersonal relationship, no one feels excluded. It should comprise a mutual exchange of information, ideas and knowledge. The members of the relationship have a sense of belonging and generally participate in some type of social interaction.

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MRT tells us that when individuals believe that they are not being rewarded equitably for their contribution to the relationship, certain problems with morale and productivity begin to arise. When we find equitable conditions for good interpersonal relationships, we generally find an atmosphere of positive response to management, personal and organizational needs, concern toward employee feelings, and a willingness to share knowledge.

Working relationships that are mutually rewarding can be established with proper care. In a well-established MRT relationship all parties benefit. In order for a relationship to remain healthy over a long period of time, it has to contribute something of value to all parties involved. If any member of the relationship feels that he or she has been contributing more than they are receiving, the relationship will begin to deteriorate.

Relationships can be mutually rewarding because people can fortify each other in a variety of ways. However, if only one person does all of the giving, the relationship begins to grow weaker. When building new relationships we should look to the benefit of others, what can we contribute to their well being and happiness. This is no more than the GOLDEN RULE; do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We all have our own value system. A priority list of what we feel is important in life. This is what make’s different people seek out different lifestyles. Because of this difference, it is only natural that value conflicts will exist when people are forced to work closely with one another. It is improper, perhaps even an invasion of one’s privacy, to impose one’s values on someone else, particularly in the work environment. Whatever a fellow worker may or may not do outside the workplace is their own business and has nothing to do with the relationship established in the workplace. It is always best to keep an open mind and build the relationship on common interests on the job.

The workforce is changing dramatically in diversity. We must be willing to accept this ever changing mosaic of cultures. We can choose to react to this mix within our organization in one of three ways.

1. If you are the dominant culture, you can maintain a negative attitude toward those in other cultures. This rarely works and can be “career suicide.”

2. If you are in the minority culture you can attempt to be one of “them” and lose your own identity in the process.

3. Regardless of the position you occupy, adapt to all cultures within the organization, you will become a better person to know and your career will be enhanced.

In the past, many people thought of the United States as a great “melting pot” that would become one culture with a single language. Instead we have become a “great mosaic” created from many cultures. Each person and each relationship should stand on its own merits without regard to ethnic background. We must look beyond outward appearances and accept each person as a unique individual. Regrettably for all of us, not enough people practice this principle. Many relationships lie ahead that will involve persons of different ethnic backgrounds. If we remain open, honest, sincere and willing to talk, our chances of building a successful MRT relationship are excellent.

Working relationships between employees frequently contain sexual overtones. For the most part this sexual tension is not dangerous and has little importance on productivity one way or the other. There is little danger involved, provided the individual is not your supervisor and you are smart enough to keep your business and personal worlds separate. But this is not always the case. If it should become common knowledge that a dating situation is taking place, co-workers can become suspicious and distrusting. Feelings that favoritism and special treatment are taking place can create a great deal of tension and affect productivity.

Sexual harassment goes beyond natural overtones and is ILLEGAL! There are three forms of harassment: 1)Verbal; 2)Visual and 3)Physical. Any of these actions violate the law and inhibit work performance. These actions should be reported immediately to management.

Ultimately, we all need to learn tolerance, respect and acceptance toward our fellow workers so that strong, healthy, interpersonal relationships can flourish. These are admirable traits and can benefit our personal lives as well as our working relationships.

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Mutual Reward Theory. (2018, Jun 19). Retrieved from