I'm currently writing this sitting in a restaurant. Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about the benefits of flexible working - in fact, it's the opposite.
While waiting for a meeting to begin, I’m observing what’s going on around me and what I believe that means for the business. As someone who has worked in restaurants my entire career, this isn’t unsurprising.
I spend two or three days a week in restaurants taking in what’s around me. The décor, the customers, the service, though most importantly the people. And I’ve got a theory.
A team that eats together, works together.
If a restaurant team takes the time to sit down together and eat either their breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening snack, whatever, then they are a good team. That is my theory and it's as simple as that.
Like all good families/groups of people/friends, when we are together something powerful happens. Conversations start, ideas are shared. Connections are made and some disconnections highlighted. Even if no one speaks (unlikely) the simple of act of sharing food and time is always an investment.
In this case, the chefs have cooked and brought up six plates of food and everyone in the restaurant has stopped what they are doing and come together. Someone is new, so they're introduced to everyone. It's so great I couldn't make it up.
In fact, I'm blown away. It's not often you see what I'm seeing and how this is clearly not a one-off. This is how these guys roll.
I have over the years checked my theory. It is without question that the teams that do this are led by good managers. People that I think are good, their boss thinks are good and clearly (most importantly) the team thinks are good.
The other check I have made is whether those businesses made money and have happy customers. Unsurprisingly, every time I have checked, the business is making good money and customers are indeed happy (save for a few blips but as we all know, the customer isn't always right). I will check this restaurant to check my theory, but I'm pretty sure it isn't going to let me down.
The impact of shared experience
So, what's this telling us - we should invite our teams to our houses for dinner? Well you could, might be kinda fun. Or you could simply ensure that you create an environment where, like at home, you sit with your team and just be together. No phones, no panic, no stress and no bullshit. Just be. I think you will be surprised by what you see and hear, and what impact it has.
In my view, the experience you provide to your teams directly impacts the experience your teams provide to your customers. Stop worrying about your customers and start worrying about your team. A team that's like a family will work like a family. Your customers will love that - they will tell people about it, how great it is, how real it feels, how much they wished their team was like that. And, by default, you will make some money.
All because of pulling up some chairs, sitting down and having something to eat and having a conversation with people that you like... Try it, and let me know if it works for you.