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The politics of doing lunch(29 posts)

The politics of doing lunchKristin
Dec 3, 2002 11:57 AM
I've been granted the task of organizing office lunches. Most of us in my department eat lunch in our little cubby holes each day. So getting out once a week has been good for the three teams I work closely with. I began the lunch tradition about a month ago, and its catching on. Being the social butterfly of the group, the task will fall to me. But do I invite management along or only staff? I'm very obviously not a manager myself. (I'd shoot myself if they made me a manager.) I don't want to exclude anyone--managers have feelings too...I think--but would inviting the management team be a mistake? Who would we make fun of if they were all there?? lol.

~hopelessly clueless about politics and decorum (which I just found out is not what Better Homes and Gardens does!)
I'd invite them.czardonic
Dec 3, 2002 12:14 PM
Question: Is it a good thing to make fun of your managers? Its the type of thing that (for me) feels good at the time, but seems low in retrospect. Some people earn the jibes,to be sure. If having a couple higher-ups around to keeps the conversation from devolving into a gripe session, maybe thats for the better.

Leaving all that aside, In my experience, the type of managers who will take you up on the invitation are the type that you don't want to make fun of anyway.
I was joking about making fun of themKristin
Dec 3, 2002 12:33 PM
No one here does that.
I was speaking hypothetically, of course. (nm)czardonic
Dec 3, 2002 12:42 PM
But of courseKristin
Dec 3, 2002 1:00 PM
Actually, things are slightly awkward for us at the moment. Last year, because my company hosed itself financially, three extremely large business units were sold to a competitor. Most of IT went with the sale. Opportunities abound for new growth within the businesses; but--as always--there lost of overlap within IT. Our team was once 6 strong, including a manager who reported directly to the CIO and a project leader. Now only myself and my manager remain. He supervises--you guessed it--just me, and now has a manager that has a manager that reports to the CIO. I want to invite my manager...but if I invite him and not his boss or other managers, it could make him feel like I'm calling him a "team member" or being disrespectful. I feel for his circumstance; but the IT job market is not strong. We're all just thankful to have work. And who knows how much longer any of us will be here? I think I will follow the advice below and hold and all inclusive lunch once each month!
Similar boat.czardonic
Dec 3, 2002 1:10 PM
Our copany was sold to a former client, and a great deal of re-organization has gone around. The one thing that has kept my department (IT, "synergy's" natural prey) from becoming a collection of basket cases is the fact that our manager is a very straight shooter. I would be wary of compromising his standing with his bosses.

Around here, I think it is a safe assumption that managers would attend occasionally, but recognize that letting the staff get together without "supervision" is also good for morale. Even those who are not as chummy with their wards would probably attend to show that they are good sports, but for the most part stay away. Basically, your bases would be covered with an open invitation, since for the most part managers would opt out. Nonetheless, I think the monthly event is and even safer bet.
politics are what you make themmohair_chair
Dec 3, 2002 1:11 PM
You are overthinking this quite a bit. If you like your boss, invite him/her along. If you don't, then don't. Don't worry about who will be offended or not. Inviting someone to lunch is simply an invitation and is normally considered a friendly gesture. If the invited wants to assign some other meaning to it, that's their problem, not yours.
But your boss can <i>make</i> it your problem.czardonic
Dec 3, 2002 1:29 PM
There are some pretty immature people out there. Office relationships can be a minefield. Better to play it safe.

I agree that the world should be as you describe it above.
Another categroy for your resume'!moneyman
Dec 3, 2002 12:46 PM
Advisor to Emily Post. Miss Manners would be proud of you.

Now, how about a restaurant review? I believe that Kristin lives in the Chicago area - is Chez Paul still what it used to be?

Dec 3, 2002 12:28 PM
Managers don't invite you to all of their lunches, so why would they expect to be invited to all of yours?

Your lunch will usually be a lot less formal and a lot more fun if you don't invite your boss. Teams can really gel when everyone gets a chance to vent and share frustrations in a "safe" environment. A good manager understands this and should encourage it when stress levels are high.

I'd invite the boss every once in a while, but I wouldn't make it a habit. If you feel guilty or bad about it, try to maintain the illusion that team lunches are ad-hoc in nature. Sorry, boss, nobody planned it, but everyone ended up going to the same place at the same time!
I hate group lunches in generalColnagoFE
Dec 3, 2002 1:13 PM
Probably because I can't stand most of the people I work with and would never share anything with most of them. Before I started working here I thought Dilbert was an exaggeration--now I realize he sugarcoated the truth. Reality is much more sad/funny. Does everyone split the bill evenly then? I hate that. I'd order a small sandwich and water and some pig would order the rib platter, salad and 4 cokes and expect to have everyone split evenly. Usually I eat quickly at my desk and work out over my "lunch hour".
solution to cheap pig problemmtber
Dec 4, 2002 10:11 AM
I hear ya - I have been drinking only H20 for over 10 years now and I, too, hate it when I go out and order H20 and something small to eat and then get told to chip in $12. Anymore when I go on group lunches, I order a huge a$$ meal and take most of it home to eat for snacks/lunch the next day (or 2). That evens it out a bit.
solution to cheap pig problemThe Walrus
Dec 4, 2002 10:54 AM
It's one thing to split the bill for a "communal" meal, as at a Chinese restaurant where all the dishes at the table are shared, and another to get taken advantage of by the hogs. I put a stop to it where I worked when I simply refused to put in any more than my meal cost, and told the gluttons I wasn't subsidizing them. Most of the rest of the people in the group came around very quickly...
My solutionKristin
Dec 4, 2002 11:03 AM
Only go to order-in-line places. Takes care of the problem. But even at waited tables, we have have all just paid our own portion. There's typically only 5-6 of us. I guess I'm lucky. No one I work with would think of taking advantage of others like that...not even in management.

My question...since when did tips get increased to 20+%??? Seems that others get offended if you don't round UP to the nearest $$ and then give 20%.
Tips . . .ms
Dec 4, 2002 12:55 PM
You must be hanging out with people who waited on tables once in their life. One of my colleagues was a waiter and bartender throughout college and law school. He always is prodding us to give more in tips. Those of us who never waited on tables tend to be more conservative (stingy). My usual rule is to tip somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. The factors that influence me to tip at the higher end of the range are: quality of service (of course), rounding up to an even amount for the tip, whether I plan to come back to the restaurant soon and the actual amount of the tip (i.e., I'll tip at a higher percentage if the meal really is cheap).
Dec 5, 2002 8:29 AM
my rule of thumb is to round up and tip 15-18 or so percent for standard fare (ie. Applebees and Chilis and stuff like that) and 20+% for "fine dining" or if the waiter/waitress actually does something special.
How about a monthly luncheonPaulCL
Dec 3, 2002 12:35 PM
with the managers. Make it a point to invite the managers once a month to a very casual luncheon. Make it kind of an event. As another poster mentioned, only the nicer ones will show up anyway.

It might boost morale and allow frank discussions in a casual atmosphere. Most managers do have feelings too and children and families and gripes about the business. Remember, every manager but one has a superior to moan about (just like you and the 'gang'). Paul
how high up are we talking about?Bruno S
Dec 3, 2002 2:16 PM
is management involved in daily or weekly staff meetings? If so, it would be ok to mention the lunchs. If management only appears once in a while to debrief the staff the invitation should come from them.

It would be completly unacceptable for me to approach my manager and invite him for lunch but it would be ok to approach the group lead.
Holy cow, where do you work? CIA?Kristin
Dec 3, 2002 5:17 PM
I'm talking about managment...the sort in the middle. Not executives.
No managementEager Beagle
Dec 4, 2002 4:04 AM
It is only by encouraging resentment by, and distance from, the management that the downtrodden worker underclass can encourage and propagate the devisions between the opressed and the opressors. Only throught the medium on mutual hate and mistrust can the workers hope to shed the shackles of management manipulation to rise up and become the emancipated New Leaders.
When the revolution comes baby.... (nm)Sintesi
Dec 4, 2002 6:01 AM
If you want people to relax and have fun. . .Sintesi
Dec 4, 2002 6:00 AM
bond and shoot the breeze, then keep the management out. Really, you'll be doing both groups a favor. Bosses are a buzz killer.
PS. if you really want to have fun . . .Sintesi
Dec 4, 2002 6:06 AM
order some yello rice, pork and beans and bust out some dominoes. Big time action.
Depends on the culture of the organizationms
Dec 4, 2002 6:21 AM
Businesses and organizations often have distinct cultures and personalities. The answer to your questions depends on the culture of your organization. For example, I worked for a firm where there were very dictinct divisions among the various groups of workers (i.e., partners, associates, secretaries, support staff). Other then the annual holiday party to which everyone was invited, but at which the partners and associates only made cameo appearances, everyone stayed within their respective classes for lunches and other social events. No one would have been offended if he or she was not invited to an event outside of his or her group. In fact, most of the partners would have felt that it was a great burden to have to socialize with the lower orders. On the other hand, I had a client, which was a relatively large company, where the CEO always was preaching that everyone in the company was part of a "family" and that everyone was part of the "team." He always expected everyone to get together regardless of their positions. It would have been a major political mistake in that company to exclude managers from an employee lunch (even though managers had their own events). Now, most organizations fall somewhere in between the two extremes I have described above. You know your organization better than we do -- you have to go with your instincts on this one. One general rule: the more ad hoc something is the more exclusionary you can be; the more formal something is the more inclusionary you need to be.
What you say is trueKristin
Dec 4, 2002 8:34 AM
I don't post these questions so much because I desprately need an answer for which I have not resources. But I really love to hear the varied responses that appear on this board. RBR is a colourful No_Sprint's Landshark. (I covet).

I'm guessing you worked in a law firm? I worked in the Big Six for a while and the partner/employee culture was much more relaxed. The only social etiquette to remember was to not out-drink your boss and that you must, every so often, pick up the tab. I worked at a law firm for two weeks. The partners didn't associate with the low-lifes and only emerged from their meetings long enough to to bark orders at the plebes and demand more coffee.
Your guess is
Dec 4, 2002 9:48 AM
I was an associate in a large law firm. A law firm associate is neither fish nor fowl -- the partners view associates as part of the mass of employees (i.e., everyone but them) and the non-lawyer employees of the firm lumped the associates with the other lawyers in the firm (i.e., the partners). I started my own firm five years ago with some other large firm refugees -- life is good (now).
I know what you meanKristin
Dec 4, 2002 10:52 AM
At the firm I was at for 2 weeks as a typist(got out fast), there was a young female associate. The firm had only 40+ year-old, male partners. She had it bad.
Fair Warning53T
Dec 4, 2002 10:25 AM
First: Your oranization is bloated in the middle. From your posts it looks like you have three levels of mangement below the CIO, who is also a middle managemet flunky, IMHO. This is about two too many. Get ready for a restructuring with layoffs.

Second: There is no right answer for your question. Why? Because the situation is no-win. You are trying to promote social well-being in the workplace. This is best accomplished by work activities, such as doing your job and doing it well. If you do your duties while being respectfull and helpful to everyone you interface with, you will be boosting morale. Organizing lunches where you bring together people of different politics, religions,intrests, social skils, etc. only creates tension that cannot help morale. Most of the work day is filled with work, make it your job to make work more enjoyable. That is the best way to improve the lot of your fellow employees and yourself.

Now get back to work!
not that complicatedDougSloan
Dec 6, 2002 10:19 AM
If the purpose of the lunch is business, invite the people with whom you directly work, up and down the ladder. If the purpose is purely social, invite the people with whom you like to have lunch.

These things work themselves out. Plus, it doesn't have to be the same every time.

As a "manager" (partner in a law firm), I would perfectly understand subordinates (purely in the formal sense) not inviting me to lunch. I might not understand them inviting other partners and not me, though. I wouldn't like to think I were viewed as inaccessible or disliked, but it could be for entirely unrelated reasons (like who is around that day).

Don't take on all the responsibility yourself. Do an e-mail to some people saying something like: "Let's go to lunch Thursday. I may forget someone, so invite anyone else you would like to come."