$schemamarkup = get_post_meta(get_the_ID(), 'Schema', true); if(!empty($Schema)) { echo $ Schema ; } Lunch Taboos You Should Break - Let's Grow Leaders

Karin’s Leadership Articles

You’re REALLY busy. No time for lunch. Better to grab some almonds and a diet coke and work through. The time you save at lunch gets you home sooner to your family. I’m with you. 

In fact when I was pregnant, my assistant announced she had blocked 30 minutes for me every day to walk to the cafeteria for lunch. I was allowed to move the appointment, but not delete it, for the sake of the baby.

Oh sure, I do business lunches, with an agenda and a purpose. And my sales team used to share that whenever I had something serious to talk about I invited them for a pumpkin latte. When sales started to dip, I would get a pre-emptive call: “I’ve already started scouting out the nearest Starbucks. I know you’ll want to talk.”

So I was surprised when a former colleague invited me to lunch. In all the years we worked together (in the same building) we hadn’t gone to lunch. Now he was at another company. I thought, he must need help. I’d better make the time.

What I Learned At Lunch

We met for lunch and I waited for the agenda to emerge. There was none. We got caught up on our careers and families. We talked about leadership and engagement, culture, common business challenges, hopes, disappointments.
And then he shared:

“You know the biggest difference between the 2 cultures? At my new company going to lunch is encouraged. Our entire culture is built on relationships. We have an open invitation to invite anyone from any other department to lunch, just to get to know them. No agenda required. And we can expense it.”

I laughed. My finance guy would never have allowed that (he was my finance guy). “Yup,” he admitted. As he picked up the check, I vowed to treat the next time. I got back to my office and looked and my calendar. Who could use a nice salad?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

26 Comments

  1. Steve Borek

    Refreshing to see others have lunch meetings without an agenda. Rare today.

    The majority of my lunches are agenda free. Nice.

    Reply
  2. letsgrowleaders

    Steve, Someday you and I need to meet and have one of those lunches.

    Reply
  3. Bob

    Great story Karin! I often power through lunch myself. But, our work is all about relationships! We should all take a lesson from your friend here. Who knows what could happen?

    P.S. I would love a salad! 😉

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Bob, Thanks so much. Yeah, we could have a lot of fun over some lettuce.

      Reply
  4. Bill Benoist

    Hi Karin,

    I moved my team to a home based environment about 5 years ago,. Although there have been many benefits to transitioning my team to working 100% remotely, lunch time was not one of them.

    Granted, the few who live close to each other continue to meet occasionally for lunch, the tendency to eat at one’s desk when working from home is strong. I would say it is even more important for your remote workers to break away at lunchtime – whether it to meet a colleague from work or to take a walk around the block.

    Thank you for a great post.

    Reply
  5. Anne Kinzel

    Lunch with someone is never virtual….

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Anne, Except the weird part, is that I’m pretty sure I had virtual breakfast this am.

      Reply
  6. Jim Ryan

    Just schedule lunch with friend…agenda: eat lunch, talk

    Reply
  7. Alma Escamilla

    Very awesome story your friend shared, “Culture by way of Lunch”. Just goes to show there are many creative ways to energize the work day. Face time can lift our spirits and spark ideas, personal and professional. Throw in that bonus salad and we are moving mountains! Sweet post Karin (no pun intended, I don’t mean dessert). Have a great weekend all!

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Alma so agree… You are the only commenter I’ve actually had lunch with. Besides for the fact that I ate way to much… it was just delightful 😉 Thank you.

      Reply
  8. bill holston

    Thanks, This doesn’t work quite as well in a non profit environment. We all watch our nickles carefully. And we have no budget for lunches. If we do it, it’s on my dime.
    We mostly bring our lunch.
    That said the point about relationship building is a good one.
    I try to accomplish that by simply having social conversations during the week, where i try to find out what’s going on in people’s lives.

    peace,
    bill

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Bill, yeah I get it…very good point. I have a simliar story from a great walk 😉

      Reply
  9. Danielle E. Aaronson

    Thank you for sharing this. I am sometimes hesitant to take a lunch away from my computer- will it look like I am not working hard enough? What if I don’t get everything done because of it? My culture advocates we take a lunch, yet I still find it challenging to do. I have to constantly remind myself that if I coach people on taking their well-being seriously, then I have to model that behavior and lead from actions!

    Thanks for the reminder, and I am so glad I took a lunch with a few coworkers today!

    Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson
    @deaaronson

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Danielle, me too…. it’s a tough balancing act. I’m so glad you gave it a go today.

      Reply
  10. Dallas Tye

    I love hearing about great examples of smart culture. It can be inspirational. Terrific stuff.

    Many years ago during a study tour we were hosting as part of a national quality award win we had achieved, I used the term ‘internal customers’ and was asked what that meant. I explained our process mapping used the term to instill a sense of ‘service’ between internal departments up and down a process flow. eg, you are my customer and I value you, or I’m your customer and I this is not working for me, lets talk.

    The questioner still looked bemused but hopefully he’d pass the concept on.

    Reply
    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, the idea of internal customers is key to many of the team’s I’ve led… if you don’t think of someone as your customer… there’s big trouble.

      Reply
  11. Alli Polin

    Whenever I traveled to see people my team around the country, I always tried to take each individual to dinner or lunch and rarely did I expense it in. Worth every penny. (that’s not to say I didn’t expense it when I could!)

    When I come back to the USA and to DC Metro Karin… I’m taking you to lunch and it’s on me.

    Alli

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Alli, I would love that!

      Reply
  12. LaRae Quy

    It’s amazing what comes out when we “break bread” with others.

    The whole idea of business lunches has gotten hijacked by expense reports, tighter work schedules, agendas, shameless politicking…how refreshing to get back into the habit of actually sharing a meal and good conversation with a colleague.

    Great post!

    Reply
  13. Karin Hurt

    LaRae, so agree. Thanks as always for your commenting.

    Reply
  14. Chery Gegelman

    Karin,

    Thank you for sharing your story! It resonated! There are so many days I have not taken lunch with people I really cared about, because I was so busy. I told myself that switching gears from work to social and back to work interrupted my focus. The reality was I needed the mental break, the relationships, and the fuel.

    I love the vision of the company your former colleague now works for. Expense lunches so you can build relationships. Awesome!

    Reply
  15. Joe Henley

    Karin,

    A fantastic reminder to make time for relationships and conversations that matter. I benefited greatly from working on a team that valued those informal spheres of influence, including team dinners, team builders, NYC scavenger hunts….gelling as a team requires these times. I firmly believe results follow relationships

    Reply
  16. Tracy Shroyer, PhD, MBA

    Great article! A former co-worker and I identified quite a few months back that we didn’t really ever talk unless something work-related came up because things in the office had become so busy (aka we had not been making time for these types of important things). We decided to start scheduling lunch with each other every month and attempt to leave the building for them. We have been successful so far, and there was only one occasion where we ate in the cafeteria, and it worked out well because a co-worker from another office was in town and joined us. I am so glad we decided to schedule these (yes, we have had to reschedule but try not to cancel). We both really look forward to our lunch time together and to catching up!

    Reply

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