First and foremost, not all work relationships are created equal–some will help propel your careers, others will help keep you sane, and a few can even be detrimental. The more you can build strong, meaningful relationships, the more likely you are to not only succeed, but be more satisfied with your career.
Second, there are two types of work relationships: professional and personal. Professional relationships are solely for the purpose of getting your work done. They help you advance your career and would not exist if not for your job. Personal relationships at work are those you have in the workplace for social reasons. They don’t impact your job other than they improve workplace satisfaction and keep you sane.
These categories of work relationships are not mutually exclusive–some people will fall into both the professional and personal categories. These are the truly important relationships that make work fun and productive.
Obviously the real-world isn’t as structured as what is depicted with these differentiations in relationships. Some people fall into multiple categories (a manager and a mentor) and some blur the lines between two or three of them. However, having an understanding of the basic types of work relationships can help you determine the purpose of the relationship and how to best leverage it for helping you succeed, not just at work, but in life.
Understanding the different types can help you determine the role your existing relationships play, and which ones you may be lacking.