Admit it, at one time or another you spent more time in the break room than you should have. And you probably visited it more times than you should have. Stop smirking! I would have a hard time believing anyone who claims they have never committed at least one of those infractions. But why employees do it, and how frequent, is what sets them apart. Regardless, the break room is the place where we can all exhale and socialize a little.
Sure, some breaks are like a scene from the movie ‘Fast & Furious.’ You don’t have much time, so you are in and out like the Tazmanian Devil. But more often than not, it’s the place to relax, notice, and get noticed. I don’t mean like a nightclub where you are looking for love, although that happens sometimes (respect fraternization policies when applicable). I’m talking about using that time to be inclusive, engaging, and personable. For managers, it’s the perfect opportunity to shine like a new penny.
Whenever I entered the break room, I made it a habit to stop by and say hello to fellow employees (make it quick, they’re eating), smile, and wave at those who were looking at me. Those simple gestures created some genuine bonds, and if I was lucky, good friendships. Heck, many times I was given or offered a free lunch. It is the perfect time for managers to show some appreciation to their employees by simply doing the things I just mentioned. It’s easy and doesn’t take much time or effort.
Through the years, I have seen some managers enter the break room, and the air instantly got thick. And true to form, those managers grabbed their lunch and scurried off without any form of communication with anyone. On the other hand, I have seen some managers enter the break room, and employee eyes would light up like fire in the night. Their presence commanding and their aura rejuvenating. When employees are happy to see a manager enter the break room, they are doing something right! Employees are glad to see them.
I knew a couple of managers like that, and honestly, they deserve to be recognized on my blog. Like a shoutout! Yep, they inspired me THAT much! When I worked at Sycuan Casino and Resort, Vice President of Security and Entertainment, Juan Baca, was an employee favorite. It didn’t take long for me to jump on the Baca bandwagon. During my time at Viejas Casino and Resort, Tribal Government Vice Chairman Victor Woods commanded the same type of attention. He too was a smooth operator!
Although Juan and Victor technically work at rival companies, I can’t help but think what a powerful duo those two men would be if they worked under the same roof. The best part of all, I remember employees saying good things about them even when they were not around. Don’t get me wrong; they were not pushovers or passive managers; they were and still are, good leaders that earned their employee’s respect through inclusion and engagement. They were personable, caring, genuine, and everyone knew it.
Managers, this blog is short and sweet. Use the employee break room to your advantage. It is an excellent opportunity to shine! Even if you are under stress, try not to let the employees notice or sense it. Instead, smile, wave, or say a quick hello. Maybe even buy someone lunch. Your simple gesture could go a long way, and it might also lighten your mood a little. Not only will you make someone’s day, but chances are they will mention it to other employees. It matters! It implements and facilitates everything I have been saying in my previous blogs (go read them, please).
My call to action is this: Make a valiant effort to shine every time you enter the employee break room. If there is no break room, then wherever your employees gather to eat lunch. Even on a bad day, appear to be in control, and when possible, look your best! Yes, I know, some industries get you dirty and sweaty. But when you are a manager, the employees are watching, often sizing you up from your head to your shoes. You are a manager who deserves respect, but respect is earned, not given. Consider the adage, “There’s a difference between respecting a person’s position and respecting the person.” Be the type of leader that commands both!
Thanks for reading!