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Senior Bankers: How long has it been since you ate in the employee break room?

It’s a sign that you have arrived. I’m talking about when you become a senior manager.  You get an office removed from the rest.  You now get to use the executive break room and bathroom.  Yep, you’re special alright.  Now, for the bad news: you have also been isolated from the action and, more importantly, from the customer experience. In a year or less, you are likely to be a complete stranger to what’s really going on in your bank.

Maybe it’s not a good idea to become isolated from where the real work is done.

You may be interested to read this article about Google’s HQ in NYC. Their office is designed to deliberately mix up employees from different areas and with different responsibilities.  This mash-up of execs with the worker bees has a very desirable outcome: People with similar attitudes are more likely to get along; however, those with diverse backgrounds are more likely to generate novel ideas. 

The key point: none of those interactions exist without the primary ingredient of casual encounters and unexpected conversations.  Nothing like eating together and bumping into each other on the way to the john.

Here’s how to try out this concept: bring your lunch in a Spiderman lunch box. 

That should be good for some conversation starters.  Get to the lunch room early and hang out until the 1pm lunch crowd shows up.  Go out of your way to say hello and “what’s up.”  Pay attention to what you’re told.  When you hear something you can act on, do it. (Nothing encourages the troops more than discovering that that the bigwigs will actually listen and do.)

Do this for two months.  I bet you get at least two really good, inexpensive to implement, ideas your company can use.  If I’m wrong, I’ll  buy you lunch and meet you in the break room.

Oh, and here’s some ideas for your new lunchbox