Recognise This! – Lunch with “the boss” can be a rewarding experience when implemented in the right way.

Pizza lunches or “dinner with the boss” are rewards we often hear about in employee recognition efforts at companies of all sizes. Frankly, after so many free lunches, any real value is lost. But much more value can be derived from them when used as one of the most powerful forms of recognition – the simple act of communicating, “You matter. Your ideas matter.”

Every two or three weeks, emerge from your hiding place—aka your office—and invite three to five of your employees to lunch. Tell them you’ll pay for their lunch, if they come to you with a concern or a problem and a viable solution for it. This isn’t a lunch for whining and complaining. This is a lunch for finding solutions.

What a perfect way to recognise your employees. They get the chance to eat with and have face time with the boss who has solicited directly their opinions, concerns, solutions and ideas. The boss is listening directly to them.

This also gives you a tremendous benefit – time to actually listen to your employees. You may be shocked at the information you get. Your team may bring a concern to your attention that you didn’t even realise was a problem. They may have ideas that are unique and practical. You may discover untapped talent in an employee.

And obviously the conversation will stray from business; this is an opportunity to learn more about your employees’ personal lives as well. And that’s another wonderful way to recognise someone: show that you’re interested and that you care.

What’s the best idea you’ve brought to a supervisor? What’s the most compelling solution an employee brought to you?