People over projects attitude: How to prioritize people and still get your work done

In a culture where productivity is idolized, people’s personal problems are considered a nuisance and quantity is pushed over quality, employees often believe that if they’re lucky, they might end up in a healthy work environment with meaningful relationships where their presence is valued and their concerns are taken to heart.


Whether you are craving connection in the workplace, trying to soften a tense atmosphere or just want guidelines for healthy boundaries, there are a few things you can do to keep people your priority and still do your job effectively. 


1. Make sure your schedule has some room


Generally, meaningful conversations aren’t scheduled and there’s no agenda. They happen when you make yourself available to people and show an interest in who they are outside of the function they perform in the workplace.


Besides, a calendar that consistently has back-to-back or overlapping plans, meetings and appointments is unrealistic time management and fosters chaos. You will probably drop some balls, have to work late and there will certainly be no time for relationship-building to take place. 


This goes along with the concept of under promising and over delivering. By creating reasonable space in our calendar, you’ll be able to get your work done, give a few minutes through the day to build rapport with the team and have pad time to dive deeper into current projects or start something that’s been on the back burner for a long time. 


2. Sometimes, you’re just too busy. That’s ok. Just have a plan.


While everyone needs training and help at times, you can’t always be available to hold someone’s hand through a project. However, if someone on our team needs support and you haven’t set them up for success, that won’t only damage their faith in you as a team member, it will also result in poor performance.


If you know you’re going to be out of pocket, it’s important your team has everything they need to do their jobs effectively. By checking in a few days in advance to see what they need from you, you are  communicating that you care about the projects your team is working on and there are less likely to be delays or missed deadlines.


3. Pop-in and say hi


It means a lot to people to know someone else cares about the projects they’re working on and their own mental health as they’re working through it. That’s why it’s so important that, every once in a while, you stop by you coworkers desks and ask about what they’re working on, what’s exciting in their department right now and how they’re doing.


Sound daunting? Maybe that’s because this isn’t typical of you and may seem strange at first. It’s okay to start small, and from there build your reputation as someone who really cares for their team.


There are some phrases I’ve made an intentional part of communication with people I work with and for. They’re never meant to be passive email sign-offs, but active messages to let people know I care. 


Consider this phrase and imagine how it would feel for everyone in the office to have this attitude:

“Let me know if there’s if there’s anything I can do to help or support you”

Generally, offering your support won’t lead to more work than you would have initially done, but letting your team know that you are available and there for them goes a long way. 


As prioritizing people becomes part of your company’s culture, a willingness to give and receive help will lead to more productive and happier employees.


4. When in doubt, refer to the Zilker Media core values 


Having Good Vibes creates an atmosphere where people are eager to collaborate and gets your team excited to push the company’s vision forward. 


When building Meaningful Relationships and taking time to care for people with intentionality, you build company morale, workflow is cohesive and everyone feels like they are part of the same team.  


Pursuing Bold Integrity and doing the right thing sets a standard of honesty and openness. 


When you take the initiative to put relationship-building practices in play, you Lead the Way for others to see what a positive impact it makes for you and the community you are in.  


When looking for opportunities to do good things and following through with them you inhabit the final value: Better Our Community


The people you work with are the people with whom you spend an average of ⅓ of your waking hours. That’s a lot of time where you can either encourage and affirm people, or stay silent. Consider what kind of memory, if any, you want to leave with the people who will spend more time with you than nearly anyone else in your life.


And as you can tell, not only can you prioritize people and still get your job done, but most of the time, putting people first will help you and others complete tasks much more effectively.

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