Why I make pancakes in the boardroom

It’s morning, time for a meeting and I’m going to do it differently this week. Staff meetings are needed but they are also something that we would all rather avoid.


As the boss I like to set the pace, the feel of the office, the tone or environment that I want all the staff to adhere to. This is done in the usual “Do it like this” from the head office, but in my branch, I’m more relaxed. I am happy to get my hands dirty, get the stock from the delivery guy and serve the customers. I believe that you can’t ask you staff to do anything that they haven't seen you do.

Before the industrial age, leaders and bosses would be there with the workers. Kings would ride out in front of the army. Around the dawn of the industrial revolution things changed, factory's were built with catwalks for supervisors to look down from, and glass offices of judgment appeared.

I don’t want to be that boss that has no idea what is happening. Staff and volunteers can only work well if they feel supported and encouraged that they are needed. The only way to know what they are going through is to do the role with them and support them in it. Every system has a week link and in the modern workplace it is often communication.

The pancakes in the boardroom serve more than one purpose. The first thing is that I cook them, not always from start to finish, but I always start. Through this I display to my staff that I’m there to serve them. If they can’t come to me with issues, because they don’t see me as being there to serve them as well as the head office then I think we have already lost. Second it creates a more relaxed atmosphere for the meeting, when staff and volunteers are relaxed they will let down there guard and say what they really think and feel. Third thing happens when I clean up, I display the standard that I want things to be done to.

So what has changes since I started the pancakes in the boardroom?

I’m no longer talking to staff about dress standards (we don’t have a uniform, but we do have a supply of company shirts) I keep a spare shirt in my office (folded in my draw) I had to change my shirt after to much maple syrup one day. While everyone laughed about it at the time once the meeting was cleaned up and everyone was working I changed my shirt. nothing was said but the standard was set and noticed.

I’m no longer talking to staff about being late, taking to long at lunch or flying out at 5:01. If I can get there and set up for the pancakes before them they know that I’m putting extra in, and so do they.

I’m no longer talking about cleaning up, They see me doing it and suddenly the rest of the staff realize that there is nothing I won’t do for them or do full stop. They see the standard I want things done to and they follow. It is the pinnacle of lead by example, and so simple.

The entire relationship dynamic has changed in the office all for the sake of an electric hotplate and a bottle of shake and bake pancakes. All the staff work together to serve and help the pancakes happen, and as the syrup flows so does the meeting, relaxed and perhaps a bit longer than it should be, but there is no coffee break on those mornings, it’s not needed as someone else is making and serving coffee, while I’m doing the pancakes and the whole team comes together.

Scott Fleming

I am a Counselor, Coach, Business trainer, passionate about getting people to a new level of productivity.