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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Company Picnic

Ah...the company picnic. Fond memories of fried chicken, hard dry burgers, 15 varieties of potato salad, a dish with melted marshmallows on top, a mystery casserole, and some wrinkled burned hotdogs.

And lots of employees with their families.

Sometimes leaders are reluctant to attend this traditional summer event (also the holiday party close to the end of the year). Other leaders look forward to these events to move the organization forward.

Why the different perspective? The benefit of attending these events may not be immediately obvious – it wasn't to me.

First thing on Monday morning after the company picnic, my boss found me and asked why I wasn't at the picnic. Had other plans, I answered. The boss said – do you realize the employees want to see you in this informal setting, and they missed the chance since you did not attend. WHAM – had never thought about the picnic from that perspective, and it completely changed my outlook on the importance of company events.

Employees come to a company picnic or holiday party because: it's a chance to socialize with coworkers and the bosses; it's an opportunity to 'see and be seen'; it's a free (or admission is bringing dish to contribute) event, and it's fun.

Leaders who look forward to the picnic are eager to mingle informally with the folks, to meet employees' families, and to see the workers in a non-work environment to gain a more complete impression of who they are. And it can be fun.

Keep in mind, while the leader may be coming to the event to see the employees in a different setting, the employees are coming to observe the boss in a non-work setting as well. They are seeing a different side of the leader – adding greater depth and richness to their view of this person who is leading 'their' organization.

Sometimes a leader should eat a hotdog with the troops to develop a stronger bond between her and the staff – and between the staff and her. A few hours of mingling in this informal setting can make a significant difference in building a stronger organziation.

Which is more compelling:
  • the memory of a leader with a half-eaten chicken leg talking about when he played pick-up basketball as a kid and worked tables to get through college – or –
  • some guy standing up in front of the company meeting talking about hard times, saying 'Trust me'.
    Who would you rather follow?

...And avoid that mystery casserole!

Entertaining experience - Sales Lab Video Channel

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