On Friday, Bloomberg reported on WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey's shocking announcement that employees would not be allowed to expense meals including pork, beef, and poultry. The company also won't pay for meat at any of its events or reimburse travel costs associated with it.
"New research indicates that avoiding meat is one of the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact, even more than switching to a hybrid car," McKelvey wrote in a memo.
Employees are still allowed to bring meat to work. It just has to come out of their own pockets.
This news has brought out some extreme reactions--at least, if you read the comments sections on articles about the subject. This is hardly a surprise: We have deeply rooted relationships with our food.
Here's the biggest sticking point for me in the WeWork policy: Is force-feeding policies upon someone the best way to propel your beliefs and causes? To me, there are better ways to get your points and desires across.
If you're looking to influence or lead your team into adopting new behaviors, here are two key lessons to keep in mind:
1. Changing behaviors is a two-way street.
Part of my consulting strategy involves nutrition, and when I first began teaching it to my clients, I was rigid with both my approach and vision. My success rate wasn't good. I couldn't figure out why I wasn't getting my clients the results I desired for them.
It came down to remembering that no one likes to be told what to do, squeezed into a box with no means of an escape, and ultimately treated as if they have no power and autonomy. I went back to the 10 powerful words Jeff Bezos famously said at the beginning of Amazon: "We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details."
My vision was for my clients to eat healthier, improve their various health biomarkers, and ultimately improve their quality of life. However, the details to get there can ultimately be a myriad of different options that could be tailored to the individual.
To get the buy into your vision, work policy, or any other agenda you have, remember it's a two-way street that requires people to effectively feel like they have a say in the situation.
2. You need to provide incentive and reward.
Your inner child never goes away, no matter how old you get--and one of the best parts about being a kid was being rewarded by your parents. When it comes to getting initiatives done, motivating people, and ultimately creating a change, establishing rewards are one of the strongest tactics to use.
Offering rewards and special perks to people who opt for meatless dining options is a much more effective strategy than banning meat entirely. You install extra motivation without alienating those who still want their grilled chicken salads.
Now, if you're going to do this, you need to reward people for their behaviors--not just the outcomes. Here's a simple example: Use a point system. For every time you choose a meatless dining selection, you build up points which you can cash in whenever you please. Points could be worth extra vacation days, cool gadgets, or any other perk you want to offer..
Get creative and have a myriad of options, because people are motivated by different things. Some love recognition, some love money, and some will appreciate the option to travel more due to extra vacation days.
The stronger your relationships and trust within those people you're attempting to influence are, the likelier the change has a chance of happening (and sticking around for the long haul).
WeWork should take a leaf from this particular book.