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Yes, You Have Time To Go To Dinner With Your Team

March 30, 2016

Rodney, we are meeting at Crawdaddy’s Kitchen at 7:00. Are you coming?

I’ve got a lot to get done tonight. I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

Suit yourself. 

Food isn’t that important to me. I don’t look forward to meals or eating out. I enjoy food, but I can take it or leave it on business trips. 

And I really did have a lot to get done. But. . .

We were all in Shreveport, Louisianna to open a new call center. “We” includes people from Salt Lake City, Chicago and other parts of the country. We hold weekly project phone conferences, but we rarely see one another. This was one of those rare times. 

Mark was a new addition to the on-site visits. He’d met many of the team on the phone, but never met them in person. I noticed a funny thing happening. We told stories. We gave each other a hard time the way a mostly male team will when they get together. I noticed that while Mark was fully accepted by the rest of the team, he fell silent at the times we told stories from previous launches. 

I hadn’t realized how important this team was to me. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We had been asked to deliver on impossible timelines on multiple occasions. And every time we pulled together as a team and delivered. And at each of those engagements we ate. The stories of the dinners were nearly as numerous as the stories of the work.

Did I have time to go to dinner? Did I have time not to?

It turned out to be four of us at Crawdaddy’s Kitchen. We were all three from Salt Lake City. Except that Ammon had lived in Shreveport as a young man. He’d spent two years in Louisianna. 

Have you ever had crawdads? I grew up in the Seattle area. I love seafood. Crawdads are not seafood, but they are close. Most seafood, be it oysters, or clams or crab or lobster has a unique way to eat it. Crawdads are no different.

We had Ammon to explain to us not only what to order but how to eat it.  

While I don’t get super excited about food, I do like to try different foods. So, at our dinner I shared the plate of boiled crawdads and ordered a cup of shrimp gumbo. The gumbo was delicious. The crawdads were a different story. It’s sometimes hard to eat food that looks back at you. 

You twist off the tail and peel it like a shrimp. The spices were pretty strong, but very tasty. It’s also very messy. Like eating BBQ ribs swimming in sauce. 

Did you eat crawdads much when you were here, Ammon?

Sure. I like the tails. I guess you’re supposed to then suck on the head, but I never tried it and I don’t see a reason to start now.

Like I said, I like to try new foods. 

You know that hot sauce from Mexico in the red bottles? Imagine if you were to inhale that? That’s what sucking on the head of a boiled crawdad felt like. It was weaponized hot sauce. I nearly passed out. I’m not going to try that again. 

Teams are not just a collection of people who share the same manager. In fact, most of us in Louisiana this week do not share the same manager. Instead, teams are a group of people with a common goal and a collection of shared experiences.

If you want to be part of a team, make sure you take the time to share the experiences. Yes, you have time to go to dinner, even if you don’t have time. You can’t afford not to go. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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