Does the path to company performance run through your local bakery?
We’ve had some disruption at work lately, and since I was scheduled to come into the office I wanted to hear what my coworkers had to say.
When change happens, it’s important to get people talking and their thoughts and feelings out in the open, but how do you do that? From what I’ve seen over the years, people can clam up when they’re stressed. There’s one pretty reliable way to get them talking, though.
I live about 90 miles away from the “real” office. My normal commute consists of stumbling down the stairs to my basement each morning. On this morning, I drove in early and made it to the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through to grab an assorted dozen.
That’s right. Donuts.
Well not just donuts. But food. Breaking bread with people tends to get them to open up.
It’s true. Think about what happens at your family Thanksgiving dinner. The same thing happens in the workplace. And I don’t mean go buy some donuts tomorrow morning and leave them in the break room. Engage with people. Gather your team up, or go cube by cube and offer them a donut.
A study last year by researchers at Cornell agrees: more team meals can equal better performance:
Over the course of 15 months, Kniffin and his colleagues conducted interviews and surveys in a large city’s fire department, which included more than 50 firehouses. The researchers asked the department’s 395 supervisors to rate on a scale of zero to 10 the performance of their platoon compared to other fire companies in which they’ve served. The supervisors were also asked how often the platoon eats together in a typical four-day work week. The platoons who ate together most often also got higher marks for their team performance. Conversely, the platoons that did not eat together got lower performance ratings.
When I worked in politics full time, we made a standard practice of team dinners or lunches each week with campaign staff. It helped keep morale up in a high stress, long hours work environment. One of my political mentors made sure to schedule dinner meetings and made sure snacks were always available. It helped.
So now that I’m in the corporate world, I kept up the idea – and guess what? It works there, too. I’ve even built a reputation as the “guy who brings goodies to the office”. Thank goodness I don’t come in every day, we’d be broke.
Try it in your workplace and see what happens. You might just get people talking, and working, better.
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