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Our Relationships Make Us Human. And they Make Work Better.

PART 1: Prioritize Relationships

Have you ever wondered what people mean when they talk about work being “human?”

I have.

Over the last past five years—not incidentally just as we were becoming more glued to our devices than ever—I started hearing this buzz about “human” workplaces. Even the most senior leaders were talking about being vulnerable, compassionate, and “human.”

I found myself wondering: “What the heck do people mean by ‘working human’?” As opposed to what? Being inhumane? A robot? I wanted to know.

So I set out to research these question, and what I’ve discovered is that while everyone uses the term “human” a little differently, they’re all pointing in the same general direction.

People are no longer willing to accept work as a soul-crushing, Dilbertesque, phoned-in, cubicled nightmare. Leaders, managers, employees all want a more purpose-driven, meaningful, engaged work life. In fact, people are demanding it.

So what’s a leader to do?

Putting phones in a basket during a meeting, eliminating email, ensuring that employees take vacation—all of these mini-fixes are on the right track. But I’ve learned that there is one Big-Fix thing that anyone and everyone can do to ensure a more human workplace.

And that’s Honor relationships.

Honoring relationships at work is not rocket science, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I’ll be offering some sure-fire ways to do it.

Prioritize Relationships: Make sure your calendar reflects your values

Position Technology: Find the sweet spot between tech and connect

Develop Protocols: It’s up to each one of us to create rules of the road.

Shall we begin?

Prioritize Relationships

When it’s time for lunch, you grab your cold pad thai from the office fridge and hunch over your computer for some “me time,” i.e. doctors appointments, catching up on emails, online shopping, cat memes, etc. And then you wonder why you feel so unfulfilled at work.

Relationships make everything better. And while anyone can say, “Of course I prioritize relationships,” it’s easier said than done. But there’s one sure-fire way to hold yourself accountable.

Ask yourself: Does your calendar reflect your values?

When was the last time you had lunch with a colleague? Has it ben over a week? A month? A year?

Are you calling into meetings from down the hall? 


Are you experiencing phone creep, a slow and steady loss of control over time spent on your device, even in the presence of others?

Ask yourself these questions, and then, over the next month, track how you’re spending your time and with whom. 


Tiffany Pham, CEO of Mogul, is a great example of a CEO who makes sure that her calendar reflects her values. Her mantra is— Never Eat Alone. So, every day she grabs whoever is around to connect over a meal.

Pham says, “I regularly walk around the office and ask employees in each department how I can support them. . . . In this way, education flows throughout our organization as I further connect and bond with everyone from our executives to our interns.”

Pham also meets with her leadership team each week to “gain a sense of what further tools might enhance their professional skill sets for their current roles and beyond.” Again, this intentional communication and prioritizing relationships enables Pham to see who needs what, when they need it, and why.

Tune in [next time] to see how you can position technology to honor relationships. And in the meantime, just start noticing how you and your phone are getting along. How would you rate your relationship? Who’s calling the shots?

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