When I interviewed for my position at Algonquin Studios, I remember asking what my interviewers particularly enjoyed about working here. The things they both immediately mentioned were “Meet & Eats” and “F.E.A.S.T.” It was the first time I’d gotten a food-related response to that question and it definitely got me thinking.
After I started here and I got my calendar request for Meet & Eat, my curiousity about what the event would involve continued to grow and I really started looking forward to my first experience. Sadly, it was canceled for a reason I don’t remember so I waited impatiently for the next one.
Meet & Eats are training sessions, with an Algonquin Studios twist. These aren’t your “normal” training sessions, where you sit in a too-brightly lit conference room and listen to some guy who says he’s an expert drone on for an hour or two in a monotone voice. These are sessions taught in an informal setting, by peers who share their knowledge with their coworkers in an effort to make everyone better at what we do here at Algonquin.
Presenters are notified a day in advance that they’ll be presenting to the group and projects are picked because a Development Manager believes there’s something particulalry interesting or informative to be shared. On the day of a Meet & Eat, the rest of the Development team pulls up a chair or bean bag in the common area of the office as the presenter covers all aspects of their project and discusses how they overcame any hurdles they experienced. The informal nature of the sessions means everyone is able to ask questions at any point and people can jump in if they have something to add. During almost every session, you hear somebody say “I didn’t know you could do that!” or “Wow, that way is so much easier!” No matter what their title or role is at Algonquin, everyone stands to learn something from each Meet & Eat.
Continuing our theme of food as a uniting factor in our corporate culture here at Algonquin, after the presentation is finished we all head over to the kitchen to experience the “Eat” part of the session. “Eat” allows our whole team to get together and continue discussing what was reviewed during “Meet” over a variety of local foods-specialty pizzas, chicken wings, even a taco bar set up by a Mexican restaurant!
When I think about the benefits our Meet & Eats bring to Algonquin Studios and the employees here, I have to think about them as being more than just “educational” in nature. An event like this goes beyond what you see on the surface, it’s also about everything you can’t see-the relationships formed between the people who have to develop a presentation in one short business day, the confidence and experience the presenters gain as the discuss their projects and gather feedback from fellow employees and managers, and the relationships formed between employees munching away during the “Eat” portion of the day.
Does your organization have any informal educational events or session similar to our Meet & Eats? What sort of value do you think sessions like these can bring to the organization as a whole and employees as individuals?
I, personally, can’t wait till next month’s Meet & Eat to see who the lucky presenter will be and what delicious spread we will be indulging in!