Afterwork social activities with colleagues might seems more obligatory than worthwhile but, for any company that wants a great workplace culture, it’s critical. At Prezi, we started implementing “Dream Dinners” where I leave my CEO hat at home and have one on one dinners with fellow Prezi people to just talk about hopes and dreams. Sound too fluffy-clouds-and-ponies? That’s what’s great about it.
Maria & Andres
My first dream dinner was with one of our designers. I meant to buy dinner, but Maria insisted that she and her husband, Andres, cook. Over salad and risotto, they told me about their dreams of opening a restaurant. I wasn’t planning for this to be a recruiting opportunity—and Andres never meant to inspire me—but today Andres is the Head of Bistro in our Budapest office. He creates a breakfast and lunch experience for over 80 employees everyday, adding a cultural lesson for each meal. He’s learning how a restaurant of this nature could actually be feasible and Prezi gets a passionate chef.
Sometimes these dinners begin a bit awkwardly when there’s a perceived conflict of interest. Like the CEO hearing about entrepreneurial aspirations. Szilveszter, for example, told me that he would like to start a company of his own. This conversation was a little odd for both of us since this is my senior web engineer telling me that his dream is to work on something else. But, since then, I’ve wanted to help him reach his goals, and it’s even more like a team than before. Our conversation opened up a deeper understanding for each other and Szilveszter is still with Prezi as one of our top performers.
Kata in HR had only been at Prezi a short time before our dream dinner. Two months later, she followed one of her lifelong dreams of visiting the volcanoes in Hawaii. She thanked us for the dinner initiative because she realized she hadn’t really thought about her dreams since she was a child.
Dream Dinners: Do it.
These dinners have actually taught me more about leadership than any HRy literature I’ve read or entrepreneurial experiences I’ve had. Processes and best practices can never replace a genuine care for people. Having dream dinners means being vulnerable on both sides and uncovering something meaningful in our relationships.
This post was originaly published on LinkedIn