Forward Together: Building a Culture of Encouragement

By supporting a colleague’s growth, Duke Blood Cancer Center creates a spirit of togetherness

colleagues at work

Forward Together

As the post-pandemic work landscape evolves, Working@Duke will share stories of how individuals, schools, departments, and units build a positive culture at Duke.

But Christen didn’t travel this professional development path alone. From supportive coworkers, such as Roth, to supervisors who regularly pushed her to take on new challenges, the encouraging culture created by her colleagues provided an ideal environment for career ambitions to flourish.

“We’ve always been supportive and excited to see people try to be their best,” said Jennifer Frith, clinical operations director for the Duke Blood Cancer Center. “If you enjoy coming to work, and you feel supported, you’re going to stay. If you’re happy at work, a lot of pieces fall into place.”

Christen’s experience with her Duke Blood Cancer team shows how, when team members feel invested in one another’s success, an environment where employees feel motivated to grow is created.

Sim Sitkin, the Michael W. Krzyzewski University Professor in the Fuqua School of Business, said that these kinds of encouraging cultures are hallmarks of successful organizations.

“You want people to feel comfortable taking initiative, because they know their colleagues value and respect them,” Sitkin said. “Their colleagues know they’re not perfect, but they see them as growing, so they’re willing to stick their neck out for them. In a healthy organization, people accept a certain sense of responsibility for helping those around them.”

A 2022 McKinsey consulting firm survey shows that one of the top five qualities people who recently left jobs were looking for in their next stop were supportive and reliable colleagues.

With opportunities to develop her skills, and colleagues who nurture each other’s ambition, Christen knows she’s found a special place at Duke Blood Cancer Center. In her unit, personal and professional growth is a team effort. “We’ve always supported each other,” Christen said. “The value of that is immeasurable. Having someone come and put their hand on your shoulder and support you means so much.”

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