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You have been placed in a highly visible role to bring about an organizational change. As a change agent, you might be launching a new leadership development program, a process to increase efficiency, or an upgraded IT platform. The CEO publicly promises things on your behalf. He tells the entire organization at a global town hall meeting that you will bring them to the promised land. Your name is mentioned at the company’s annual leadership conference in the “what’s ahead” presentation. The CEO invites you to a pool-side lunch at a business offsite as his senior staff looks on at your elevated status. Congratulations! You are the CEO’s Shiny New Penny. As you consider the unexpected limelight into which you have been placed, you privately revel in your career trajectory. But watch out. There is danger up ahead. You can still turn things around if you take head of my warning flairs from deep inside the rabbit hole that lays in front of you.
My manager has a boundless energy and is known as a “Corporate Soldier” due to her non-stop work ethic. She schedules back-to-back group meetings throughout the day and I often go without eating lunch. I’m afraid that if I complain to her about this, she will view me as a light weight. She has given me many opportunities and views me as “high potential”. How can I have my needs met while still be on the fast-track of advancement?
Since we are on the topic of lunch, let’s peel back the layers of this onion, shall we? By your own admission you want to be on the “fast track for advancement” so you should consider doing all that you can to have quick nutrients on hand before approaching your manager with changes to her meeting habits. Have you considered prepared meals in Tupperware? Bags of peanuts? Protein shakes and bars? Bacon-wrapped dates? While these MREs are no substitute for hour-long lunches with your buds, they can be consumed in the stolen minutes between meetings and allow you to be viewed as someone who always puts the business objectives of the company first.
The navigator offers the above advice with the assumption that your chock-a-block meetings are mission-critical and that everyone in attendance provides their expertise because your company is going through a merger or acquisition, or a new product is about to launch with no time to lose. But if they are like most meetings where the manager has bought into the consensus zeitgeist in which every non-essential employee must attend and opine on topics that they know nothing about, it’s time to speak up with some suggestions:
Ask her to keep 30 minutes free at an agreed upon time for all attendees so they can eat lunch
Suggest that she allow meeting attendees to bring their own food to these meetings
Suggest that lunch be ordered in
The downside of the above is that you may be asked to coordinate ordering in lunch for the group from now on. Or, she may agree to a meeting-free lunch reprieve, but expects you to stay later in the day to make up for this time.
Sometimes, the need for lunch is not only about eating, but a need for alone-time because you may be an introvert who draws energy from solitude. Or you truly desire a less intense work culture. If so, consider a different position or company.
the NavigatorMy manager allows no time for lunch with back-to-back meetings