Actionable Tips for Growing Boston Firms

Back to Human [Book Digest]

Despite the benefits of collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, many of today’s “work-from-home” workers are feeling lonely and isolated. 

But why? Shouldn’t we feel more connected now than ever?



Dan Schawbel’s book, Back to Human, helps managers understand why many of us don’t feel so good; to help us understand how to assist in connecting people emotionally and genuinely. He studied over 2,000 managers and employees across different age groups and reveals why virtual communication can contribute to a stronger sense of isolation at work and he advises on how to use technology to increase connections rather than fuel isolation.

Below are the notes of Part 1: Master Self Connection, however, if you would like to listen to the summary instead, you can from here.


Part 1: Master Self Connection


Focus on Fulfillment

Regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, we all have a basic human need to connect with others and feel like you matter. Being able to fulfill this personal need leads us to become more productive and successful in our personal and professional lives. There are 5 key factors of personal fulfillment that you should focus on to ensure you’re living a well-balanced and meaningful life:


  • Connection: Establishing a more meaningful connection with your teammates makes work more meaningful and enjoyable. Lack of this makes work feel like a chore and creates an environment that may hinder creativity and innovation. 


  • Values: Your values are reflected in everything you do, the more you show them to the rest of your community, the more you internalize them.


  • Purpose: Every decision you have made so far in your life is connected by a thread. Think about your personal choices and the common thread that unites them. Understanding why you make the choices you make is crucial to reaching your goals.


  • Openness: Being open to change is an important quality for a leader. But also being ‘open’ in the sense of confiding in your teammates and building trust is important as well.


  • Accomplishment: This refers to reaching a big goal or something small as marking off a task from your to-do list. The feeling both bring you is something most people desire and look forward to. If you want to feel more accomplished, set more goals, and make sure they are attainable.


Optimize Your Productivity

This might not be a surprise but, text messages and emails are competing for our time with human connection, and unfortunately, technology seems to be winning. Although technology has greatly helped us during times where physical presence/connection isn’t an option, it has also hindered our productivity. Here are 3 Actions to Optimize Productivity and become more efficient.


  • Procrastinate Less: Instead of wasting time trying to think about how to tackle a big project, simply break it down into smaller tasks. This makes the overall project more manageable and harder to procrastinate.


  • Resist Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a weakness disguised as a strength. Trying to reach it wastes our time and causes anxiety, which makes us unhappy. This doesn’t mean putting less than 100% of our effort into a task, but be realistic about what is being asked of you and get it done to the best of your ability.


  • Stop Multitasking: Neuroscience research proves that our brain cannot do more than one task at a time. The stop-and-start process in our brain causes momentary lags between each task. Instead, it’s better to prioritize your workload. The other two useful tips to stop multitasking are to not say yes to everything people ask of you and to delegate when you can.





Practice Shared Learning

As a leader, it’s crucial to understand that team success is driven by the sharing of knowledge. A leader and team members must be open to give and to receive knowledge. This free flow of information is great for business. By collaborating with your team, you’ll be able to acquire information more quickly, retain better knowledge, and be able to apply it in new innovative ways. The following are recommendations for creating a culture of shared learning:


  • Ask for and give feedback: By providing employees regular feedback and then asking them for feedback as well you create an environment in which it’s okay to both criticize and compliment. This way you will facilitate conversations that are beneficial to everyone, especially for business.


  • Track Accomplishments: Be sure to evaluate what you and your teammates have done over the course of the months and evaluate what actual business results were accomplished. This is a great way to identify gaps and weaknesses and creating a learning environment.


  • Be Flexible: This refers specifically to the way you share new material. The correct use of face-to-face communication, videoconferencing, email, and messaging are essential to support everyone’s needs. Don’t waste your time, identify what communication method is best to convey your message.


  • Have a Positive Attitude: Don’t think just about yourself, push your ego aside, and improve the lives of those around you. When you’re in shared learning discussions, accept criticism openly, and embrace it. When you hire new team members, look for those who have a positive attitude and be wary of those who aren’t team players.


  • Promote the Expertise of Others: Learn when to speak and when to listen. Everyone has their strengths and you must be able to identify and encourage them.

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