Expert Advice of the Month: Who will you have lunch with this year?


Donald Cooper is a Toronto-based speaker and business coach. Using his vast experience as a manufacturer (Cooper Canada sports equipment) and an award-winning retailer, Cooper has helped hundreds of companies in over 40 industries around the world to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose, and long-term profitability.

This year you could have lunch alone or skip lunch altogether. But imagine what you could learn and accomplish if, just once a week, you chose to have lunch with someone new on your team. It’s a great way to connect with employees from various parts of your business.

Before the lunch, make sure you know what they do, and whether there have been any challenges with them or their department recently. Have they been promoted or taken any training recently? Then, at the lunch, thank them for being part of the team and, in a kindly way, ask them a few questions such as these:

  1. How can we help you do your job better?
  2. What frustrates you or slows you down?
  3. Is there anything we can do to operate more safely?
  4. What could we do to be more environmentally responsible?
  5. From your perspective, what do we do that frustrates or confuses our customers?
  6. What are three things that we could do better?
  7. Do we as a company ever make promises that we don’t keep?
  8. What would you like to know more about regarding the business and how we operate?
  9. Where would you like to be in your career and life in three to five years? How can we help you get there?


Assure them that if they have any thoughts about any of these subjects in the future, you’d like to hear them and then tell them how they can reach out. If you’re not their immediate supervisor or manager, make sure that the person who is knows about the lunch ahead of time and why you’re doing it.

Pick a lunch spot that will make conversation easy and comfortable. A spot that will honour but not intimidate your lunch guest. It can be close to your place of business. Or it could just be sharing a great pizza with a small group of employees in a quiet corner in the office, warehouse, or production facility.

When we listen to our staff, two things happen. We learn from them and we honour them. So, if you think this makes sense, announce to your team that you’ll be doing this on a regular basis and that it’s not to go behind anyone’s back. It’s a simple way to stay in touch with the HR realities of your workplace.