Humanizing colleagues (Episode 131)

Humanizing colleagues (Episode 131)

Interview with Thomas Djurso, Country Manager for Cognizant in Denmark.


Here is a refreshing approach to building a team: Make people connect with each other as humans, not just as colleagues.

And no, I am not talking about infrequent kick-off meetings that happen way too seldom, or an after-work, which is usually some friends at work going out on a Friday.

I am talking about deliberately and consistently connecting people who work with each other to help them better get to know each other as human beings.

The man who pointed me towards, what we can call “Humanizing the team”, was Thomas Djurso, Country Manager for Cognizant in Denmark.

Thomas told me how he got the local 25 salespeople together on a kind of “speed-dating” with the purpose of getting to know the other person – as a person. Not as an expert or a professional.

“What do you do on the weekends? What are your hobbies? What brave things do you like to do”, and so on.

Thomas explained that getting to know the person behind the role builds closer relationships, stronger bonds, and deeper trust.

Thomas has these meetings on a regular basis.

When you hear about the reasoning behind it, and about how successful it is, you have to wonder why not every team does things like this more often.

Thomas: “If I know who someone really is we can make even better business together. It’s about breaking down professional barriers, and you can really connect with someone when you find something that you have in common. Connecting with another person is the spark that starts the fire of curiosity!

Because people know each other they are more inclined to help each other, and a bonus effect was that they got a better understanding of who they were themselves after sharing personal things about themselves with others.

People went from being “Mr. Johansson who is a data scientist”, to “Bob, who plays saxophone in a jazz band and is a fantastic data scientist and uses his improvisation skills to develop new IT solutions.”

And the more people connect on a human level, the more connections are made.

Connections build connections. If you know that someone, for example, is playing in a jazz band in their free time, you can have the idea to bring that back to your next kickoff.

And it’s working. Employee satisfaction at Cognizant Denmark is very high. People who work there are not “just colleagues”, they are more than that, because they have connected on a personal level.

Yes, people connect all the time at work, but seldom is this facilitated in a conscious and deliberate way. It is this idea of turning human connection into an active activity that makes the difference.

How could you build more human connections in your teams?

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