I recently read that the the U.S. Army subscribes to Napoleon’s philosophy that an army marches on its stomach. In fact, they’ve even taken it one step further — they now have a self heating kitchen-to-go for the battlefield. It’s a 20 pound box that will feed 18 people a hot meal in just a few minutes.
Why, you might ask, doesn’t the Army just serve up 18 individual meals? This way each person can choose what he wants. Because the Army recognizes that food serves a greater purpose than just nutrition— food is also a bonding agent among people.
When I was a kid growing up, dinner time at our house was considered hallowed time. If one of us kids was late or missing when mom had dinner on the table, we had better be either dead or unconscious. Because that’s what we were going to be if we didn’t have a solid excuse for being late!
I didn’t realize it at the time but family meals served a greater purpose than just loading up with food. This was a time when us kids were “trickle fed” Violand family values. This is when we learned how to treat other people, how to solve problems, what things in life were important — and why. Meal time served as a time to feed our emotional, spiritual, and physical beings.
I’m convinced that the same thing holds true in a business. And the more time your people spend in the field, away from physical and emotional contact with the boss, the more critical it becomes. The further that life-line of emotional support between you and your people gets stretched, the more important it is to “sanctify” the time that you spend together.
Remember this— nothing strengthens that Emotional Life Line between you and your people like food! This special time together doesn’t have to be a formal, sit-down occasion. After all, you still need to “make production”! Plus we’ve become a nation of grazers. Instead, look for ways to do quick feeds on the run.
How do you think your techs would react if you brought donuts or bagels into the shop some morning when they were getting their trucks ready? What would they say if you had pizzas delivered to them while they were doing a large job? Remember the happy sound of children when they hear the jingle of the ice cream truck in the neighborhood? What effect would it have on morale if you were the ice cream man and your office was the neighborhood?
Motivation programs don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Showing you care doesn’t have to be group hugs or apologies when it’s already too late. It’s just amazing how you can get people’s attention when you put food in front of them!
Napoleon was right. Armies do march on their stomachs. And so do companies. Look for ways to feed your troops. And eat up! Speaking of which I’m hungry! Till my next blog post …