April 2014 IT Business Consulting Newsletter

Train Staff, Increase Team Spirit

By Tom K

In my last article I mentioned the Lunch & Learn. Properly used, this little gem can help you train your staff and increase team spirit with almost no expense.

In this month’s newsletter (a quick but valuable read), I describe how we’ve used this tool at several companies with excellent results.

The Lunch

The concept is pretty simple. You get your staff together for regularly scheduled lunches, they spend 15 minutes together chatting and bonding while getting the lunch you’ve provided, and then someone presents a 30 – 45 minute session. The lunches are simple, inexpensive, convenient for the purpose, and should be easy clean-up; pizza, party subs, family style Chinese, sodas.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to break the lunches up by division, department, or function. Some clients have split the companies/departments down the middle so there is always coverage during each Lunch and Learn.

The Learn

The topics can be anything - security, safety, guest relations, new features in your PM software, changes to the Employee Handbook, changes in the Health Care offering, etc. Focus on things that can best improve your company’s success or reduce its liabilities. Those who have instituted this tool have never been at a loss for a topic, there is always something out there that can benefit your staff and your company.

The presenters can be internal staff or external partners. I’ve done several of these while travelling. I’ve also helped client staff prepare their sessions when asked. It is not at all difficult to put together a 30 minute session. Just try to keep it entertaining (or at least interesting) as well as informative.

And reserve some time at the end of the session for a group discussion of the material. You’ve hired intelligent folks; it’s amazing how much additional learning can be gained after the structured presentation.

The Benefits

You get to engage and educate your staff for an hour, on their time, at minimal expense. This improves your company’s position and, due to the low cost, the ROI is exceptional.

Your staff sees this as a perk rather than just another boring meeting. They get a nice lunch.

And, your staff gets to bond with their coworkers in a relaxed environment.

The Keys

The keys to the success of the Lunch and Learn are to keep it interesting/informative, and its regular schedule. It should always be at the same time on the same day, i.e. 12:30 PM on the second Tuesday of every month. Your staff will look forward to it and plan on it.

Once it is established (and you’re appreciating its ROI), consider expanding to twice per month. But always keep it consistently scheduled.

Since the schedule is static (and the food is ALWAYS there on time), tardiness is rarely an issue. But, if you need to address folks coming in late, consider a gentle penalty like anyone arriving after 12:30 PM brings in doughnuts Friday morning.

If you have any questions about any of the info in this article, or if there is anything I can do to help you with ideas for your own Lunch and Learns, please don’t hesitate to contact me at TomK@TomKConsulting.com, or via my cell 443.310.5110.

Next month I’ll start a two part overview of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Every company that accepts or processes credit cards, or touches a credit card transaction in any manner, must comply with this standard. Pretty serious stuff…