- Research reveals that people who sit in fairly large groups at lunch tend to do a lot better in the company
- Companies achieve better employee retention when teams build networks and know more about what’s happening across the organisation
- ‘Note-taking’ managers who only ever talk shop don’t connect with teams – and therefore don’t get the best from them.
Tiffany Pham, Founder and CEO of Mogul says one of the simplest ways for managers to demonstrate that they’re listening is to invite team members to join them for breakfast or lunch. Pham says she “never eats alone,” instead using these windows to listen to her employees, ask how she can be helpful to them, and get to know them on a more personal level.
The big idea: Building connections make people want to do better
“The death of the long lunch is a tragedy for businesses,” says Prof André Spicer from Cass Business School at City, University of London. “Many organisations had lunch together in cafeterias where everyone stopped and ate together and talked.
“There is research by Humanize, which studies social networks and work, that shows that people who go to lunch and sit in fairly large groups tend to do a lot better in the company, simply because they are building up networks and finding out what is going on in the business. Bring back lunch!”
Actually, says Emma Sinclair, the co-founder of EnterpriseAlumni, there is a lot to be said for the regular company-wide catch-up, even if it comes in the form of a traditional meeting. “People do need to feel included. And a bit of consistency is good.”
What’s in it for you: Reduce employee turnover
At GMR Web Team, a US-based Internet marketing and reputation-management company, the entire company has lunch together on Fridays. But the point of the lunch meetings isn’t to talk shop, it’s to improve relationships among co-workers.
As a result, the company is seeing better employee retention. “Keeping morale high with these team-bonding events not only goes well with employees, but with the company as a whole,” says Ajay Prasad, founder and president of GMR Web Team. “People are willing to stay longer because friends are there, too.”
Make it happen
Use these 3 lunchtime tips to build better relationships:
- Avoid being the leader in the conversation. Try to carry equal weight and play down the fact that you’re the leader, encouraging a conversation as peers.
- Develop engagement. Don’t use this as an opportunity to pick their brain. Initiate balance and minimise the gap between you and employees by avoiding being a note taking manager.
- Go to your employees. Don’t just say “My door is always open,” and wait for them to come to you. It’s your responsibility to initiate a conversation.