A recent article from the New York Times highlights a growing trend in corporate team building: extreme activities.
Some companies spend up to $100K on services like Top-Gun-style flight simulation or changing car tires NASCAR-style to create an intense environment for employees.
The motivation behind it being a shift in corporate culture.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some suggested management approaches turned a bit soft (and apparently made a lot of managers miserable), as leaders navigated the challenges of remote work and global uncertainty. Now as these concerns wane, bosses are eager to turn up the heat, making their cultures more “hardcore.”
The idea being that the strongest corporate cultures tend to be found in jobs that are inherently dangerous (i.e. the military, coal mining, firefighting, police work). In these lines of work, if the team lets you down, it’s not about botching a client pitch but potentially life or death. In these situations, being able to rely on your peers is everything.
So if a manager can capture even a little piece of that lightning in a bottle (without risking life or limb), the team and the company benefit.
“Hardcore” in this instance means more than throwing around car tires, it’s about finding a collective sense of purpose. Few things hold a culture together more firmly or create a greater sense of “significance,” than the feeling of the shared adversity from a worthwhile cause.
Case in point: During the pandemic, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, nurses (often thankless jobs) gained recognition and respect as their jobs became inherently more dangerous.
The thing is – it doesn’t have to be life or death. Every job is meaningful in some way. It’s about the story we tell ourselves.
We all want our work and existence to matter. Be it through hard core simulations or otherwise, finding greater meaning and purpose is something all leaders must nurture.