CEO of the organization is often seen as the unapproachable “Devil”. Being on the top of the hierarchy, employees think twice before entering their superior’s cabin. Discussing problems long forgotten, some subordinate get awkward and stutter-y during meeting. This can result into a communication gap between the CEO and his employees, which in long term can affect the management of the organization and later the services provided by them.
A terrific way to foster connection and safety, belonging, and mattering in the organization culture is for the CEO to have lunch with small groups of cross-functional employees on a regular basis.
The spirit of this CEO Lunch program is to spend an hour with the CEO talking about everyone’s experiences at the company, helping everyone get to know one another, and helping everyone see the humanity of the CEO.
Here are the reasons real companies have started having family-style meals:
A closer team
When Impraise, a performance-management software company based in New York, had just five employees, they all sat down and had lunch together. Now, the company has more than 30 employees, and they still eat together at one large table.
“We’ve found this has a great effect on maintaining open communication as we grow, ensuring that people never feel divided, even if we’re working on different things,” Bas Kohnke, CEO of Impraise, said in an email.
The company also randomly picks two employees each day to be in charge of grocery shopping, and to set up and clean up. “These people are always selected from different teams and include everyone from the CEO to the newest intern,” said Kohnke. “It’s a great way to mix it up and make sure people from different parts of the company also have some one-on-one time together.”
At GMR Web Team, an internet marketing and reputation-management company in Tustin, California, the entire company has lunch together on Fridays. But the point of the lunch meetings isn’t to talk shop; it’s to improve the 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,” Ajay Prasad, founder and president of GMR Web Team, told me. “People are willing to stay longer because friends are there, too.”
As Jellyvision, a Chicago-based tech company that helps people make life decisions, grew over the years, leaders found it more difficult to make employees feel important. If those leaders had not recognized the problem, they could have ruined their relationship with those employees. That’s why, to maintain contact with everyone, Jellyvision created its lunch program.
“Once a month, the leadership team at Jellyvision is paired at random with a group of employees from around the company,” said Bob Armour, CMO. “Coming together for lunch takes down any feeling of corporate barriers that may arise.”
There are no agendas for the lunches, so the conversation can develop naturally. For example, Armour was recently able to get suggestions on where to go during his upcoming trip to Florence.
When a team performs admirably and meets its goals, a meal is a great way to celebrate. No matter how large a company is; free food is a great way to show employees they’re appreciated.
This type of meals helps the CEO to recognize employees and help motivate the entire team
Builds up loyalty.
The secret that a CEO will never tell you? We don’t actually want to be the Miranda Priestley of the workplace, feared and tiptoed around by everyone. Bosses do want to be liked by their team members and establish a great rapport which going out for a meal together whether one on one or with an entire department helps to do. With the more shared meals or coffee outings you share with your team, the more trust begins to build up as well as warming up to genuinely liking your higher-up in charge.