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Let's Do Lunch! An Awesome Business Strategy

Stop Working Thru Lunch, and Start "Working" Lunch

Is working through lunch really good for your business?

I can’t tell you how many coaching conversations I have had with super-achievers who think that working through their lunches and eating at their desks or staying in their shops, routinely, is the way they will get ahead.  I challenge them to “think again.”

One of Nantucket's jewels is her restaurants. Why not take advantage? Why not enjoy yourself while developing business relationships?

While getting the work done, accomplishing the task, achieving the goal is critical to a person’s success, building relationships that will enable that success are just as, and perhaps significantly more important. 

Unless you work totally alone or live alone on a deserted island (definitely not Nantucket), you can’t deny that your interrelationships are an important part of your business or career success.  The ole, “it’s not what you know, it’s who ya know…” still holds some merit.  Few people truly get ahead without support, encouragement, endorsement and/or mentoring by others. 

I liken it to the two rails on a railroad track—the train needs both of them to move forward.  Same with both the task and people side of career advancement and business development. Both need to be developed, congruently.

Many times energetic and motivated career types fail to recognize this—until it is too late. They focus entirely on the task, believing that being able to deliver results is the only variable that matters in their success.

This reminds me of a middle management woman super achiever who I coached, AFTER she was flabbergasted with being passed over for a promotion she expected and she believed she truly deserved.  She worked 12 hour days in the office, worked through every lunch, and always took work home with her.  She never missed a deadline, and everyone knew that if you gave an assignment to “Carrie,” it would be done excellently, every time, and ahead of the deadline.  Her reviews were stellar. 

The person selected for the position was equal to her in age, stature and appearance. Her reviews were not as stellar as Carries’, but they were high level too.  The difference was, she not only had a balanced life, but she delegated well, and she spent significant time cultivating relationships inside and outside the department. She used her lunches as opportunities to mix with folks from various internal and external departments, vendors, and customers. She was known for being able to get things done through people, cut through the red tape, and in an approachable synergistic way.

While we don’t know the details of why or how the promotion decision was made, “Carrie” felt the pain of that decision that left her behind. It prompted her to challenge her assumptions about career behaviors, and she identified the gap as being the missing interpersonal relationships.  From there she decided to make building synergistic relationships a priority.

She started to schedule lunches, and “find” opportunities to have less formal discussions with various people in her organization.  She got to know them as people, not just workers.  She still worked hard, and delivered great results.  About a year and a half later, she was offered a position that was as good as or better than the one she had coveted previously. And even in her new position, she still “goes to lunch.”

There has been a lot of banter about whether “going to lunch” with people is a career or business booster strategy.  While we use the example of going to lunch, what we are really talking about is finding ways to build reciprocal, trustful, synergistic relationships.

Just remember, that train needs both rails- the “people rail” and the “task rail.”

Some people cultivate the “people rail” on the golf course, some do it at the water cooler, some do it by volunteering in trade associations,  …and others do it at breakfast or lunch. Do whatever works for you.  I personally like lunch. And especially here in Nantucket. Whether its the Sea Grille, Brotherhood, Centre Street Bistro, Fog Island, JC, Sea Dog, etc., etc., you're guaranteed a great meal. Great relationships are part of the tasteful delight that can follow...

Hey—we’ve all got to eat, right?  Now, the question is where and with whom.

Lunch, anyone?


Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC, is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Nantucket based professional coaching firm.  Visit www.marshaegan.com . She can be reached at [email protected].