That’s the last time I ate a meal with some colleagues. It was with a couple of members of the leadership team, and we popped out at lunchtime to the pub round the corner for some simple pub grub and a drink.
Why does this matter?
It’s very easy to forget when you’re working day in and day out, at a desk surrounded by monitors, printers, and click-clacking keyboards that you’re surrounded by people, not just other employees of the same company.
When push comes to shove are you going to put yourself out for a fellow employee, or are you only going to put yourself out for someone you know something about.
If you know that person in the next cubicle has dreams of owning their own business, or cares about Taekwondo, or wants to buy a house, then you’re in a better position to be able to understand where they’re coming from. And if they know that your Dad is ill, or your eldest child is a county swimmer, or you’ve had an idea for an amazing new app, then they’re more likely to support you in a more sympathetic way.
It seems obvious. Make connections and your network for getting things done becomes bigger.
But you’d be surprised how many businesses there are where people will turn up, sit at their desk, not make a tea round for the team, sit and eat lunch at their desk with their headphones on, and then they wonder why they a) don’t enjoy their job very much, and b) don’t achieve great things in their role.
And eating together is a thing humans have done for thousands of years in order to build community and reach common goals. So why have so many people stopped?
Don’t tell me it’s because you’re too busy. One conversation with the head of the team you interact with most might just make every interaction you make that much more effective, saving you time over and over again.
Don’t tell me it’s because you’ve got nothing in common with them. We can always find something, and even if we can’t we can at least have some interest in what they’re doing. “Ah, you do Line Dancing. How on earth did you get into that?”
Don’t tell me you can’t afford it. It doesn’t have to break the bank. It can just as easily be a packed lunch on a park bench as a 3 course meal at a Michelin star restaurant. You’re not doing it for the food. You’re doing it for the community, the sense of togetherness, to gain a sense of understanding, and to find common ground and break down barriers.
Only when you break down the barriers will you really start working as a team, and start delivering some amazing work.
And do it regularly to keep the benefits going!