Erica Keswin's "Aha!" moment happened a decade ago on a Bermuda beach. She signed into work with her Blackberry, in a lounge chair and said out loud "This is the life!". The ability to leverage technology - and in some cases leave it behind- in order to bring more personal meaning and human purpose to work is essential. At the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs this week, Keswin spoke with Dan Gallagher, Vice President of Talent Acceleration at Comcast, to a packed room about her new book, Bring Your Human To Work- 10 Surefire Ways to Design a Workplace That's Good for People, Great for Business, and Just Might Change the World. Their conversation focused on vulnerability, the desire for connection and finding relevance in one's work.

Dan Calista, president and founder of Vynamic, a healthcare industry management consultancy, is featured in Bring Your Human to Work. The ways he tries to live out principles of the book? "We try to think about people in a decentralized way and spark more small group conversations." For example, they have developed Councils that focus on goals such as "Talent", "Thrive" and "Drive"- their approach to play.

Here are 3 key takeaways from Keswin's conversation with Gallagher.

Keepin' It Real

As it turns out, the desire for connection and meaning increases with age. People want to connect with authentic leaders who open up about themselves. Not in an awkward, "too much information" sort of way, but in a manner that enables both managers and staff to build on relationships first, so that company initiatives aren't such a big ask later. 

It's also important to consistently integrate what Keswin calls "the digital voice and the human voice". The more that the essence of your voice is the same across all channels of communication- in person, on email, on the phone- the better. Not all mediums of communication are created equally but begin to question why you may tend to default to communicating through email or text.  Keswin cautions us to pause and ask "What is my goal in this conversation? Am I running 10 minutes late? Do I have a colleague who seems a little off? Then match the message to the medium- what's the best way to communicate and speak in that human voice?." In other words, pay attention to your intuition.

Capture and Share Stories

Listening to, documenting and disseminating the stories that employees and customers tell about our products and services, is actually the best way to live out corporate values. In order "to go from the wall to the hall" as Keswin says, teams have to share on a regular basis the anecdotes and examples of feedback that capture the detailed intricacy of human interaction. Keswin shared an example from her book where on a monthly basis LYFT solicits feedback stories from drivers exhibiting LYFT values.

For example, one Valentine's Day, a driver picked up a young woman who was crying and obviously upset. Rather than plunge ahead on the drive to get to his next fare, the driver pulled over, and had a 10 minute empathetic conversation with her. A few weeks later, the CEO was contacted about a letter he received sharing how that driver may have contributed to saving the woman's life. 

Another example Keswin gave was that Away luggage uses Slack channels as a repository for stories about how customers's travel experience is impacted by their luggage. Thus there are both in person and digital ways to curate customer stories.

Early and Often Feedback

Gone are the days when an annual year end performance review is sufficient to keep your star performing employees. Regular and consistent feedback, given early and often, is critical. Keswin said that millennials especially want to know where and how they stand- or else they wil be out the door.

A vulnerable and authentic way leaders can give feedback is through their intentional actions. Take for example, the following version of parental leave. Companies that do not think about intentional flexibility will be left behind. Keswin shared the case of a small firm in Australia, where the president "leaves loudly". At 3:00 pm he shouts out that he is "out the door!" He doesn't sneak away to prioritize time with his kids, and he doesn't want employees to do that.The more transparent leaders are, the better they are at meet their teams where they are.

Here is the great news: Keswin encourages us that we all can do this.

  1. Prioritize - Ensure that your calendar reflects your values.
  2. Position - Pause and identify the best way to leverage technology for effective communication.
  3. Protocols -Develop an intentional habit- such as "I won't check email until 10am and thus minimize my distraction away from what I have prioritized." 

Start acting on Keswin's 3 P's of bringing your human to work- today!