Do you eat your own cooking?

By J. Forrest

Do you ever find yourself using the same little expressions too frequently?  I’m not entirely sure if this is a reflection on getting older, possessing a simple mind or reading too many leadership books, but regardless of the source, one of my “little expressions” is about ‘eating our own cooking.’  Let me explain.

I like to say we “eat our own cooking.”  In our small consulting firm, we believe in the authenticity of taking our own advice and utilizing the same tools, processes, and approaches that we encourage in our clients.  Our tagline is “Creating Great Places to Work,” and that phrase internally and externally filters our work efforts.  Sometimes this isn’t even cost-effective, but it’s the right thing to do. 

Earlier this winter, our firm was recognized as a Best Place to Work in the Twin Cities.  Minnesota Business magazine bestowed us with this honor and evidence that we do, indeed, eat our own cooking. Like a chef that loves sampling his food, a cobbler who has kids with great shoes, an accountant whose ledger looks flawless, a physician committed to his own health, or a personal trainer who works out religiously.   We back up our words with our actions.  I can’t begin to describe in blog format how much that means to me. 

There are times in life when you get an unexpected validation that your purpose or vision is on track.  This honor provides that to me.   Earlier in my career, I was persuasive enough to get an organization to apply to Fortune Magazine’s competition for Best Places To Work in the US.  Through this endeavor, I became well-versed in the outcomes of this honor.  More money, better returns, etc.  While those may be compelling, the process is the point.  What does it take to be a great place to work?

It’s not as simple as having a pool table or a great coffee maker. The perks make good copy, but the winning formula is far more simplistic than that.  The bottom line is simple: when a leader commits to the employee experience with their time and money, inclusion on these fine lists can follow.  So what is the magic formula?  Your most common ‘best place to work’ looks something like this:  

· Work experience that provides accountability and autonomy, a unique combination

· An opportunity to do meaningful work

· Employees who can see how they impact the organization’s performance

· Recognition of achievements

· A sense of belonging among employees(read—community)

· Regular meetings

· Unique rituals (the more unique and the more consistent, the better)

While this post reads more about us than you, my hope is that it leads to some reflection about what it means to eat your own cooking.  Over the past couple of years, not all of our meals have tasted quite right. However, we couldn’t be happier about eating dinner with 99 other Best Places to Work on June 6th.  Thank you and bon appetit!