Job Maestro: Building Positive Professional Relationships

113015_Inpost_Job_01It’s not what you know, but who you know—and who knows you. Whether your goal is to maintain current workplace contentment or work your way toward your dream job, relationship building is critical. To talk about how it’s done, Job Maestro met up with Michelle Aldridge, ’93 Business, ’95 MBA, senior human relations business partner at NetApp.


When I first started my job a year ago, a new co-worker gave me with a prized specimen from his rare beetle collection. I called him a kook. What was I supposed to do? And why should I care?

We spend more hours of the day at work than at home. You need to be able to communicate with and trust your colleagues in order to ac- complish your professional goals. The best way to do this is to be open to different experi- ences, values, cultures and schools of thought. Remember that coworkers are regular people who have issues that you may not be aware of. Don’t think that your way is the only way!


I like blindfolded driving and duck herding as much as the next person, but what’s the real value of team-builders and other work perks for organizations and employees?

We need to build relationships and we have to be able to relax sometimes. You don’t have to know everything about your colleagues, but getting to know them can help you relate to them and communicate with them more effectively. On the company’s side, when people recognize that employers care about their personal wellbeing, they are more motivated to be there.


I recently tossed out a few of my subtropical plants and brought in a new desk cactus. Biodiversity is part of diversity, right? And why does diversity matter in the workplace?

Diversity is important to avoid sameness: People with the same background and the same schools of thought are going to continue to do the same thing. A smart organization approaches problem solving through different perspectives, which are the product of different values, experiences and cultures. You have to have multiple viewpoints!


For more from Aldridge about making the most of your SJSU connections, see Alumni Updates!


Jody Ulate

Jody Ulate, '05 MA English, is editor of the Washington Square blog and printed alumni magazine.

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