Disagreements about food are all too common in the workplace. From leaving a mess in the kitchen to nicking all the coffee milk, there's always something to complain about. But when you and your co-workers are isolated in the middle of the Antarctic, arguments can turn deadly serious — especially when bacon was involved...
Bacon picture from Shutterstock
Rachael Robertson is an Australian business speaker and author who specialises in corporate leadership and teamwork. In 2005, she successfully led the 58th Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to Davis Station.
With temperatures regularly hovering below -30 degrees Celsius, the perpetual threat of blizzards hovering on the horizon and months without visible sunlight, Rachel's managerial skills were often tested to breaking point.
"You can’t get in or out of the place and you don’t get to pick the people you live and work with," Rachael explains in her book about the expedition, Leading On The Edge.
"Work becomes incredibly boring and your sense of purpose is sapped by the knowledge that nothing will change until the re-supply ship arrives, a distant nine months away."
Rachel utilised several leadership tools in a bid to keep her team working as an agreeable unit. Among the most important was having the right bacon. No really.
Here's what Rachel has to say on the importance of cured pig and how the same basic principle applies to other workplaces:
Manage your Bacon Wars
A major dispute once threatened to shut down the station: Should the bacon be soft or crispy?
Every workplace has its own Bacon Wars: seemingly small, irrelevant issues that grate on people but build up until they become distractions and affect productivity. It may be dirty coffee cups; people who are consistently late for meetings; or people playing on phones while someone is presenting. These appear to be small offences but are usually a symptom of a deeper issue.
For us, it turned out the Bacon War was a manifestation of something deep and important: respect between two teams.
According to Rachel, every workplace has its own form of Antarctic winter where productivity slows down and tempers begin to simmer. While the consequence of failure may be less dire, it's still important for leaders to find ways to keep their staff inspired, motivated and resilient during these chilly down periods.
"Leaders must identify and probe their Bacon Wars. Find out what’s underneath and resolve it."
We realise that Rachel's speaking figuratively here, but free bacon sounds like a pretty good motivational tool to us! Make mine streaky.
You can read more about Rachel's experiences in the Antarctic over at Business Insider Australia.
See also: Use A Bowl To Cook Crispy Microwave Bacon | Blanch Bacon To Tame Its Smoky, Salty Flavour In Dishes | Curl Your Bacon Before Baking | Get Bacon In Every Bite Of Your BLT With The Basket-Weaving Technique | DIY Bacon Fat Candle | Infuse Vodka With Bacon