The higher you ascend on the corporate ladder, the busier you get.
That means you may have less time to find out what’s going on with employees in other parts of the company.
Jim Ayres knows that, and he’s taking measures to prevent it from happening. As managing director for Amway North America, he makes sure to maintain old relationships and forge new ones across the organization.
Every Friday morning, he has breakfast with a different Amway employee at a restaurant near Amway’s headquarters in Ada, Michigan.
He always chooses an employee he doesn’t see very often. That employee might be a senior exec or an entry-level worker; someone who works in Ada or someone who works across the globe.
“To be really successful,” Ayres told Business Insider, “you have to build great relationships.”
So he keeps a running list of people he’d like to invite to breakfast and get to know better.
Ayres said he gleans new insights from every breakfast conversation – insights that help him generate a clearer picture of the company’s future.
For example, he recently had breakfast with a lower-level employee, who told him about their experiences interacting with business owners.
“I got real insight into the problems our leaders having in training” new employees, he said, and walked away with ideas to improve the training curriculum.
No matter who he dines with, Ayres said, he learns things that “aren’t coming up in weekly executive staff meetings.”
Of his dining companions he said, “They can educate me on what’s going on out there.”