Posted by Robert Half on 28 November 2016
When it comes to your lunch, you probably have favourite foods that you eat on a regular basis. However, you probably also know that to receive the maximum benefits from your meal, nutrition experts recommend eating a variety of foods.
The same goes for the colleagues you lunch with. Admit it: When you’re not eating at your desk, it’s usually with other people who work in your department. You like eating with them – they know you, they like you, they toil over those tedious finance reports with you. But by limiting your lunch mates to those in your department, you’re limiting opportunities for personal growth and career advancement. Occasionally having lunch with people outside of your department allows you to…
Let’s be honest. Some employees think of the company’s accounting and finance team as the people who cancelled the summer picnic, slashed the budget for the Christmas party, and got stern with them when they lose receipts. However, when you reach out to colleagues in other departments and invite them to lunch, they get the opportunity to see how you really contribute to the business (-- including getting them paid on time). Over time, they’ll learn to trust you and respect the job that you do.
If you haven’t already, at some point, you will be placed on a committee or project team from various departments. And this committee or project team will be expected to work together to solve a problem, implement new processes, develop a policy, or some other action that affects multiple facets of the organisation. Many firms are in the process of digitising their finance function which requires the collaboration of multiple departments. If you’ve been going to lunch with, and have already established relationships with, your respective team members, when there are disagreements as to approach, it will be a lot easier to get them to let down their defences and listen to your point of view.
Bridge the gap
You don’t need enemies, and you certainly don’t need to burn bridges. If you’ve heard from colleagues that someone in another department was offended by something you said or did, offer to take him to lunch so you can mend that working relationship. Former enemies can turn into the best of friends. Even if that doesn’t happen, at least you can bury the hatchet and establish a more amicable relationship.
Learn new perspectives
Lunching with employees in other departments can also expose you to people with different skills and talents. Employees in accounting and finance are typically analytical, detail-oriented and organised. However, after hanging out with the graphic design team, you might be inspired to take a few classes to develop your artistic abilities. And your colleagues in the advertising department can teach you how to be more persuasive.
Life is full of changes, and you never know when your employment status might be one of them. By choice or out of necessity, you might need to look for another job. It’s important to network with people who have connections and can help advance your career. For example, Sam in marketing might have a connection in the finance department at another company that has an opening. A referral from Sam could put you on a very short list of candidates.
Just as you need variety in your lunch meal, consider your need for variety in your lunch partners. A lunch break provides a perfect opportunity to get to know employees in other areas of the company. And these relationships can help you develop personally and professionally.
Note: This article was originally published as The Benefits of a Lunch Break with a Non-Finance Person