Questions and Answers: One Man’s Life Work

PROVO, Utah – May 19, 2020 – Answering questions about collaboration and effectiveness is why Cody Reeves heads to the office every morning. These types of questions motivate his research as a BYU Marriott assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources, and they help him prepare students for their future careers.

While Reeves has found professional success in his research, he didn’t always know that he would pursue a degree in organizational behavior and human resources. He recognized his talent for numbers and data early on in his college career, so he originally thought that he would pursue the field of finance or accounting.

However, when he took an introductory human resources class at BYU Marriott, he was immediately intrigued by the questions found in the field of HR. “In that class, we were talking about subjects that resonated with me, such as human psychology, structuring teams, and getting people to coordinate effectively,” says Reeves.

Reeves found these questions so fascinating that he changed his major to organizational behavior and human resources. After graduating from BYU Marriott and eventually earning his PhD from the University of Iowa, Reeves continues to focus his efforts on the questions that most intrigue him. “As a professor, no one tells you what to research,” he says. “If I think a question is interesting, that question seems like a fun puzzle for me to untangle and solve.”

Reeves’ research has included a study about gender differences in physical capacity tests required for certain professions such as the military. His research has also looked at the construction of virtual teams. He’s studied team dynamics in situations where some people are located together physically and compared them to situations where all members of the team are connecting remotely. He has also studied the different ways people define leadership in virtual and face-to-face teams.

Reeves says the most satisfying aspect of his work as a researcher has been the opportunities to see how his research impacts real people. One such example was when he partnered with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to research team structures and increase positive outcomes in its healthcare system. “The opportunity to find applications is what motivates my research,” says Reeves. “I look for something I could see actually moving practice.”

Reeves’ work in the classroom also shapes lives and the field of HR as he trains his students to be future leaders. This opportunity to shape these students as professionals and people is one of the main reasons that Reeves chose to be a professor. “Teaching is something that I've always had a passion for,” says Reeves. “I always knew that I wanted to teach in some capacity.”

As a teacher, Reeves sees that the skills students are developing in his classes will help them in their careers and life paths. Whether students choose to become HR professionals, artists, or accountants, all students who manage people in some way will need the skills necessary to successfully manage a team.

“At the end of the day, if you're ever going to take on any kind of a management role, that means you're doing HR work,” says Reeves. “You'll be managing a team of people and working with issues like motivation and compensation.”

Beyond teaching the skills that students will use in the workplace, Reeves feels that the skills associated with HR will also help students in their daily lives. “When we talk about topics like performance management, I invite the students to think of all the things they want to accomplish and what's important to them. How will they measure their own life performance and determine if they are succeeding?” Rather than studying lessons specific to HR professionals, students are learning skills to set goals and motivate themselves throughout their lives.

As he teaches principles that he hopes students will use in both their professional and personal lives, Reeves is grateful to teach at BYU Marriott, a place where students can also enrich their spiritual identities. “BYU and BYU Marriott have created an atmosphere where we can encourage discussions of spiritual matters and teach our subject matter bathed in the light of the gospel,” he says. “These discussions are an opportunity to connect with students holistically.”

As he looks to the future, Reeves hopes to continue engaging in holistic discussions with students and answering the questions that mean the most to him. For Reeves, the potential positive impact that answering certain questions can have on others is what keeps him going. “When I can see the connection between my research and applications that affect lives, that's what gets me excited,” he says. He hopes to continue producing research that will help people in the workplace and beyond.

BYU Marriott Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Cody Reeves
BYU Marriott assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources Cody Reeves

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Kenna Pierce