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Sometimes my readers, audience members, clients, and even friends and family take my advice and (eureka!) get fantastic results. This is one of those times, so I think it’s worth sharing here.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

To begin, here’s a question I’m frequently asked when I present or when I work with coaching clients: “How can we get our staff more connected with each other without it being weird or awkward?”  This is an excellent question because any team works more productively, more effectively, more creatively, and with a whole lot less time- and emotion-sucking drama when the individuals get to know each other.  Every winning athletic coach knows this, but so do good organizational leaders.  And yet it’s so easy to just do your job day in, day out or to keep hanging out with the handful of people in your immediate work area.  Sound familiar?

Here’s an idea that has proven itself to be a great solution to this popular dilemma.  It’s called “Four on Friday.”

In this case, one of my association clients loved the idea, put their own spin on it, introduced it to the staff, received high interest and participation, and saw a 98% success rate. You read that right:  98% of the participants thought it was awesome!

Want to know more?  Here goes:

This association education program manager and her team launched their Four on Friday program at a staff appreciation event. Shortly after the event, the team sent out an email announcement offering more details. This email included a link to a sign-up sheet on their intranet. (You could post yours in your break room if you prefer.)  The program would begin in July and last through the end of the year with a total of 18 Four on Friday lunch events.

The rules for the lunches went like this:  When you sign up you’re assigned to a lunch group with three other staff members who have also signed up. The vision was to help you make new friends within the organization, create connections, and increase your knowledge of the many facets of the organization.  No more than two people from the same department could sit at the same table. And here’s the best part:  the organization covered the cost of your lunch up to $15!

The coordination included setting up 4 people on a group email, which served as a reminder that Four on Friday was coming up. The groups of four could set their own time and preferred lunch venue.  The email also contained a few conversation-starter questions as well as the lunch reimbursement form.

Overall feedback included an array of positive comments, but the most common theme was that participants gained a better understanding and appreciation of their coworkers and the variety of work they do to make the organization run smoothly.

Whether you’re an organization needing to get the staff more connected or an individual who enjoys socializing over breakfast, lunch, coffee, happy hour, or dinner, this is an idea you can tweak and customize to your own needs and preferences.  You could do a Four on Friday coffee gathering at your favorite coffee house each week.  Or, let’s say you’re a great cook. You could set up a monthly Four on Friday dinner party with people you’d enjoy cooking for.  Create your vision for what you’d like to accomplish, what fits best into your schedule, and what you’d enjoy most.  Give it a test run, tweak it as needed, and see if it becomes a tradition that brings you not only good conversation and strengthened friendships, but also allows you to become a respected connector.

If you try it, promise me you’ll share what you did and how it worked!  And I’ll do the same because now I’ve inspired myself to reintroduce something like this in to my weekly schedule.
I’m planning my speaking / workshop schedule for the end of 2018 and into 2019. I’m looking to work with organizations and event planners who are seeking an engaging, though-provoking presenter or workshop facilitator who helps smart professionals Live, Work & Connect at a Higher Level(tm).  I’m also putting together some small group coaching programs.  If you’re interested in either, please contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com.