Never Eat Alone

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2011 at 12:32 pm

As most bloggers do, I’ve fallen behind on posting to this site. In my defense, there’s been a lot going on. I got engaged a few weeks ago, then left for back-to-back trips to Boca Grande, FL and then Munich, Germany. So, yes, I basically got down on a knee and then said “Peace!” Anyway, it was the second trip that got me thinking about a social flop you just have to be clued into. I’m not sure if it’s the culture in Munich, in Germany or just at my parent company there, but it’s powerful stuff. They never eat alone.

Each employee at Munich Re has a lunch schedule that is booked for months at a time. Months! Instead of running errands or eating at their desks to get more work done, they sit down with a coworker to get to know them better. I think that’s a simple, yet fascinating, concept. It’s become such a staple that there are countless, unwritten rules around etiquette – especially regarding who buys coffee afterwards. This is something I definitely didn’t expect when I ate lunch in their cafeteria throughout the week – everywhere, groups of two or three employees taking the time to talk to and learn from each other.

When I first started working for my company, American Modern Insurance, just five years ago, I had recently finished a book by Keith Ferrazzi called “Never Eat Alone.” I found a lot of value in that book, and I put it into practice immediately. Even though I quickly gained some contacts, my hand was slapped (not literally) for not focusing enough time on my work. Touché. I tell this story because there’s definitely a balance in being productive and being gregarious. But, even though I’ve since scaled back, there are bits of that book that continue to shape how I network. I think it’s a missed opportunity if we don’t use those precious hours each day – breakfast, lunch or dinner – to connect with people. In many ways, it’s much more fulfilling than hanging out with the same crew who you don’t learn anything new from or working out every single day when the effects are incrementally less beneficial.

A connected workforce can be a company’s greatest strength. Today is your opportunity to start leading the way.

  1. It is a difficult art to master, but if you can line up a person or a group of people for every meal of the day then great things are possible.

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