What weekly farmer’s market trips remind me about leading teams

Every Thursday when I walk into work, I see people setting up for the farmer’s market at Crocker Galleria; a good reminder for me to come back later in the days. Thursdays at work is jam-packed with important meetings and gatherings, such as post mortem, product demo, and lunch and learns.

For someone who loves to eat as much as I do, I could always use an afternoon snack after lunch. A colleague once invited me to go over to the farmer’s market with her. That was the first time I was made aware that such a thing even existed. What started as an ad-hoc invite is now a weekly routine. I typically go alone, but sometimes a colleague comes with me. My go-to are strawberries, but when they are out-of-season I find something else. I walk back to the office and spend time in the kitchen to chat with those having lunch at the counter as I clean and cut the stems off. It seems like a small thing, but this routine often serves as a reminder of some very important things.

Time to reflect

In the 15 minutes it takes me to walk over to the farmer’s market, cut the strawberries and serve them, I get a lot of data points of introspection about how the week went. There is often so much needed to get done at work that I personally need to make some time to think. The simple process of walking out the building getting some fresh air often fufils that need.

Ad hoc 1:1s

I sometimes have 1:1s with people who aren’t my direct reports to see how things are going and how I can support them. It’s similar to why I love being an uncle; to be a different role of support. It is an invitation to take a moment to walk out of the office, get some fresh air, and have some conversations. Some of these conversations have been the starting point of some partnerships I needed to build in the organization or allow a peer or colleague to vent a bit.

Craft and Presentation

One of my coworkers noticed that I wash each strawberry individually and cut the stems before I serve it to our team. It’s all about the details.

Ever mentor in design I’ve had expected me to sweat the details; that every pixel and touch should be a reflection of your craft and what you value. It’s not to say visual is everything, but it is a reflection and presentation of your work.

I clean the strawberries, one-by-one, cut the stems off, and serve them in a ceramic bowl before I serve them to my colleagues. Do they expect me to do that for them? No. However, people notice when you take the time and care to do something. People might not be able to point out what it is, but there is a sense of polish to it.

Taking the moment to be isolated in polish and craft is a good reminder that I should be as refined in my designs, when I speak, or when I give direction as I am when prepping these strawberries.

Relationship building with other departments

After the strawberries are prepped, I walk around the office and subtly offer them to those around while being mindful of people heads down in work. This gives me moments to connect with other people in departments; to introduce myself for the first time or brainstorm ideas with them. It starts with hello…and maybe some snacks.

You serve your team

Show that you are a Primus Inter Pares, which is “First among equals” in Latin. The very act of bringing fruit to my team members is a great reminder that I am there for them, not the other way around. It is a gentle reminder for me that no task is above me when it comes to my team. If I can take 15 minutes to get snacks for them, then jumping in on a PR or creating some production assets is something I should be willing to do at a moment’s notice.

If you are a people leader, or aspire to be, I encourage you to find reflective moments in the course of your day to be reminded of why you do this. It doesn’t have to be strawberries, but find something equally as good.