How to Feed People at Work or Muffins for Meetings

It is astonishing to me that we must start this discussion with a justification of WHY feed people – truly there are people raised by wolverines. Feed people you work with (especially those lower on the food chain!) because it is an easy, cost-effective way to promote good-will and harmony. Plus, with their mouths full and their heads buzzing with a sugar high, they are much less likely to attack your stupid ideas. And most importantly if you are known for feeding people, the people who work for you will put in an extra effort to ensure that you continue working.

People natter on about profits but company employees rarely see any difference in their salaries or lives if the company is doing better than expected. Management crow in meetings, congratulating themselves ad infinitum, but there’s no change in daily work life.

But, oh my dear people, BUT a big plate of muffins! Watch those serotonin level skyrocket! Watch peace and harmony waft from the heavens to descend over your team! Watch spreadsheets appear like magic, hours before deadline and letter-perfect!

It is amazing that people (especially CFOs, CEOs, and the benighted denizens of HR) believe it is possible to have a meeting without snacks especially at lunch time. Who thinks that at 10am people can manage coherent thoughts without doughnuts? Who can expect best practices at a 4 pm meeting without kombucha, veggies and dip?

A friend once worked for a person (of course male, no woman would be this dim) who would schedule the monthly team-review meetings from 12:30 – 1:30, talk non-stop for 45 minutes and then ask for input. Silence. Of course anyone could have told him that attempting to raise productivity in X sector was improbable, deciding to out-source Y was a terrible idea, and the figures would not be ready on schedule as the time-table was unrealistic, but they were all numb with hunger. One co-worker would often bring up long theoretical arguments but was eventually told in no uncertain terms that if he delayed the end of the meeting with his comments one more time, every person on the team would take it as a point of pride to steal all his food from the communal fridge. He shut up, communication shut down between worker-bees and management and ultimately top management had to come sort out the crisis.

All because of a lack of a fruit platter, a bowl of nuts and some cookies.

And it is not just in the work-place that people are so hideously screwing with peoples just expectations to be fed. Shall we look at a camping expedition? The deal was that my friends, Diana and Athena, were going to be in charge of food and I was in charge of driving, navigating and finding a good beach. We set up camp and Diana takes charge of cooking dinner. “Dinner” appears – it is a stir-fry of chicken, cauliflower, and baby corn. I hate cauliflower and baby corn and three ingredients is not really dinner, but I am on a beach so I am feeling magnanimous and let it slide.

I wake up at about 6:30am. We make tea and sit down for breakfast – which is: Ta Da! A box of granola bars. On what planet in the universe does “I’ll bring breakfast” = a box of raisin granola bars? I would rather chew my toenails.

This is a direct and flagrant violation of the universal rule: WFA-KCW (When Feeding Adults – Know, Choice or Warn) i.e. if you are feeding adults in a situation where you control the food supply you must either serve something you KNOW the person will like, give a CHOICE of more than one item or WARN the person. In practice: “Have some lovely wombat stew, I know how much you like it;” “Would you like some wombat stew, a tangerine or Strawberry Pavlova?;” “Please come for dinner tomorrow, I will serve you wombat stew and only wombat stew.”

People! Feed each other!