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Seven Books for Working Relationships

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 17/11/2015 Erica Keswin

My firm, OPR Consulting (Organization. Performance. Relationships) specializes in helping businesses identify, develop, and manage their greatest asset--their relationships.
Here are seven books that changed the way I think about working relationships.
1. Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle, Penguin Press, 2015.
It goes without saying that the best book on the topic of working relationships is this one (yes, it just so happens that I collaborated with the author, Sherry Turkle, on the business chapter, but that's not the only reason). Reclaiming Conversation is an important book, period. Just published in October of this year, it came out to stellar reviews, and is still making conversation in the news. Sherry Turkle has spent her career studying and offering insight into the ways technology intervenes in our personal lives and Reclaiming Conversation is her latest. In it, she describes how in every aspect of our lives, conversation is vital, and sorely lacking. And why the time is now to make a big change.
2. Are you Fully Charged? The 3 Keys to Energizing your Work and Life by Tom Rath, Silicon Guild, May 5, 2015.
This book reinforced what I have seen again and again--the temptation to "dismiss the need for close relationships at work until you focus on the bigger picture." What Rath makes clear is that the bigger picture is our relationships. We can't wait until we've slogged through our inbox to connect with our colleagues. First things first. People matter more than tasks, even super shiny tasks with a dopamine glow.
3. Sleeping with your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work
by Leslie Perlow, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012.
The great thing about Harvard Business School Professor Perlow's book is that she makes it clear that companies can actually change the way they work and break the 24/7 habit. In fact, by detailing an ingenious experiment she conducted with some of the most hard-core workaholics around--management consultants--she shows how strong relationships, open dialogue with colleagues and leadership support are critical to stopping the "always on" cycle. Her experiment resulted in employees who were more satisfied at work and a firm that was able to more easily recruit and retain top talent. A win - win.

4. People Analytics: How Social Sensing Technology Will Transform Business and What It Tells Us about the Future of Work, by Ben Waber, FT Press, 2013.
As HR professionals, we are always seeking ways to measure the people side of business. Waber accomplishes this by providing metrics around a topic that most people view has highly subjective: working relationships, collaboration and even stress reduction. This is nothing short of revolutionary. Waber is my analytics-hero.

5. Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family, by Anne Marie Slaughter, Random House, 2015.
As a working mother myself, Slaughter's book has helped me see how my own struggles to establish balance is not just a personal challenge, but one that can and should be taken up by our culture and political institutions at large. Why? Because we are all in this together. This is a must-read for HR professionals who need to learn more about the connections between home, work, and life. In a word: everyone.
6. Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One has the Time by Brigid Schulte, Picador, Reprint edition, 2015.
Schulte highlights the stresses of modern life and the 24/7 nature of technology. Her chapter on business, "When Work Works," highlights businesses that are challenging the status quo. Companies that create systems, processes and cultures that provide employees time to connect with colleagues, their families and themselves are companies where people want to work. According to Schulte, these companies embarked on a transformation that was "thoughtful, deliberate and embraced from top to bottom." Schulte is a terrific writer, too, making this a great read.
7. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington, Harmony, Reprint Edition, 2015.
What would a list of books about relationships be without one of the most important and influential titles on the shelves today? Not only is Huffington an inspiration for anyone in business, but this books makes it clear that she is someone who truly honors relationships for the right reasons. Not only do we get ahead by connecting to the right people, but by taking stock and seeing our priorities clearly, we can connect to ourselves. Which, it seems to me, is the thing she's got that makes everything she touches turn to gold--a commitment to herself. Which I really admire.
I would love to hear from those of you who have read these books, and what you thought of them. And I am all ears for any recommendations about what I should read next--books, articles, blogs.
And stay tuned for next week's blog on why everyone should consider a little digital detox for the holidays.
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