Can your boss tell you who to eat lunch with?

Your boss can tell you what time to be at work, what you have to do, where you have to go, when you can leave, what your salary is, and even who you can sit next to at lunch.

Wait, what? Isn’t lunch time your time? This seems like a question that shouldn’t come up at all, but I just received an email from someone whose boss wants her to go to lunch with people from the (unfriendly) neighboring department.

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8 thoughts on “Can your boss tell you who to eat lunch with?

  1. Is the company paying for the lunch? That might make this new requirement go over a little bit better.

  2. True, it’s only an hour. I would be concerned though if it becomes a regular request. Can the boss explore other ‘team building’ ideas? Like maybe bringing lunch in one day (or a paperbag lunch brought by employees) and EVERYONE has lunch together to discuss team building? We did this last year. We had to break our 60 staff up into 3 separate lunch hours, and we brought in sandwiches for everyone. But we got more out of these meetings than anytime before. They became very successful brainstorming sessions. And everyone stayed on track because we all had to get back to work.

    Personally, I think when 2 teams have to merge into one, the boss is hugely responsible for making that happen and giving the right tools to ensure it.

    And if he feels that morale and bickering is an issue, then could he also put together some smaller meetings during work hours or a mandatory paid meeting after hours.

  3. While I can see (and certainly feel) where the letter-writer is coming from I also think it wouldn’t really hurt to try this.

    At best it might actually change things around; especially if the invite to join from lunch comes from her. It would show that she is the “better” person. Although, that should NOT be the reason for the lunch!

    At worst, it would just confirm the “unfriendliness” of those folks. In which case I would suggest that the letter-writer follow up with her boss to inform her of what took place. Perhaps, then suggesting that the letter-writer AND her boss join them for lunch.

    If you extend an olive branch and it gets smacked down; well, at least you tried. Which is better than not trying at all.

    1. Very true. The letter writer may listen to the boss and initiate the invite, but the other person may still say ‘no’ – in which case, the boss needs to be the one to bring people together. And during this get-together/lunch/meeting, ALL staff need to be reminded that “you don’t have to like the people you are working with but you have to be civil, get along while working together, and ALWAYS be professional” and those who choose not to be professional (yelling at each other over silly things like staplers and photocopiers is certainly not professional) will have face whatever consequence laid out, etc.

  4. My sense is that there is something much more fundamentally amiss at this company. The tension between departments is an imbedded culture in the company. The only person who can change the culture is the person at the top. If he or she has no interest in changing the culture, then the problem will persist regardless of energetic efforts at lower levels which will only have temporary effects. Kudos to the manager for trying creating approaches to overcome the animosities, but those are doomed. It would be interesting to know if the person at the top came out of the Sales department and allows people in the Sales department to act as they please.

  5. If it really works, that going to be a good thing to the company. And if it doesn’t, problem may escalate. She should know how to do it well.

  6. No, I think the boss should take charge of this thing. Plan a big luncheon, very nicely catered, or at a friendly restaurant with a good reputation. Invite everybody. Play some party games where everyone has to get up and say something. Have a gift exchange or a raffle. Show funny YouTube videos. And all of this goes on his expense account, of course. And nobody has to clock out for it, of course.

    1. OMG No party games! No “funny” videos. Please do NOT assume that your idea of “fun” matches that of your co-workers.

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