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Visualize your workplace relationships in a new way

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Stanford adjunct professor BJ Fogg shares insights from his research, including a new way to visualize your workplace relationships, especially important network relationships that may have been weakened during the pandemic. 

Forum Date: April 26, 2022

If you were to make a list of the people in your work universe, who would be on it? This is the question posed to the April Manager Forum participants by BJ Fogg, adjunct professor in the Division of Health and Human Performance (HHP), part of the Stanford Flourishing Project at Stanford School of Medicine. 

As the author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything, BJ first led managers in an exercise to write down names based on a series of prompts, building one list off each question:

  • Who do you feel closest to at Stanford?
  • Who supports me?
  • Who at Stanford are your best collaborators or best teammates?
  • Who champions your projects or causes the best at Stanford?
  • If you had a work crisis, who would you call on at Stanford?
  • Who helps you be the best you at Stanford? (career, wellbeing, etc.)
  • Who helps make your job at Stanford fun and rewarding?
  • Who at Stanford has done you a really big favor?
Image of ProBuddy diagram

After participants had their list of names, BJ shared a prototype he created, the ProBuddy Landscape, an exercise to help them identify the landscape of their professional relationships, with themselves at the center. This exercise illustrates who they feel most connected to, and where they might want to strengthen some relationships.

“As it turns out, one natural way to visualize your relationships is you're in the middle … So the people closer to you are the people that you feel like you have a stronger relationship with, and so on. And in my research, this turns out to be a very natural way and helpful way of visualizing your relationships,” BJ added.

Try the ProBuddy Landscape exercise

Tiny Habits that will strengthen your relationships

Once managers could see their own personal relationship landscape, they were invited to breakout rooms to connect and brainstorm together on how to strengthen relationships based on the ProBuddy Landscape concept; to keep personalized ProBuddy Landscapes private, a scenario was provided to lead brainstorming group discussions:

You are a Stanford people manager with six years at the university before the pandemic struck. Over those six years, you were able to build a robust network of colleagues. Through the network mapping exercise, you have recognized that your professional network has weakened and your relationships are not as close as before. You want to strengthen your network and reestablish these relationships. What actions can you take to make progress on this goal?

Here are a few of the ideas managers shared:

  • Switch to Zoom while in Slack to convert to in person
  • Make time for in-person reconnections
  • If you have an hour-long meeting, make it 45 minutes for business and allow 15 minutes to connect personally 
  • Join communities of practice to build your network
  • Zoom less while on campus
  • Plan huddles, game hour or work happy hours on Zoom with more social connections
  • Normalize informal check-ins and meetings with people you don't work with
  • Set time aside to reach out to people
  • Use campus-wide events as an excuse to meet up
  • Do simple ice breakers at beginning of meetings
  • Give yourself permission to get a little less done on the days you are in the office so that you can chat with your coworkers

BJ concluded the session by sharing that you can think about your behavior or actions by breaking them out into behavior types:

One-time actions

For example, buying a shirt or learning to use a tool.

Once-a-week routines 

For example, going to coffee with a new colleague each week. 

Daily habits  

For example, greeting someone on Slack every day. 

BJ Fogg’s suggestion for building habits to support your professional network 

  • One-time action: Go to your calendar and find a time, once a week and block out 15 minutes with the link to your ProBuddy Landscape. 
  • Once-a-week: Each week when your calendar alerts you to view your ProBuddy Landscape, reevaluate and adjust it.

About our guest leader:

Image of BJ Fogg

BJ Fogg is an adjunct professor in the Division of Health and Human Performance (HHP) within the Stanford Flourishing Project, under the umbrella of the Stanford School of Medicine. BJ previously taught classes in the Department of Computer Science and the Graduate School of Education.  At times He contributes at the d.School and the Symbolic Systems Program. He published his first book Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything in  in 2019.

Tiny Habits book cover

BJ FOGG is here to change your life—and revolutionize how we think about human behavior. Based on twenty years of research and Fogg’s experience coaching more than 40,000 people, Tiny Habits cracks the code of habit formation. With breakthrough discoveries in every chapter, you’ll learn the simplest proven ways to transform your life. Fogg shows you how to feel good about your successes instead of bad about your failures. 


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