From the Outdoors Looking In: How CEOs Can Build Authentic Company Cultures
You’re the CEO of a growing company. In the last six months, you’ve brought on 20 new people – and now you find yourself frantically scrambling to maintain your high standards of company culture and instill in your new hires the core values you spent so much effort to create.
You envision a workplace where team members trust one another, personal connections thrive, passion inspires productivity, and great people enthusiastically produce great results – a place where people take calculated risks, yield big profits, and exemplify your company goals. You wonder if this fantasy could ever be a reality, but you’re too busy to capture that creative solution that seems to eternally elude you.
You aren’t alone, nor is the above scenario a pipe dream. It’s possible, and the solution is simple: Leaders drive culture, culture drives people, and people drive results. The more connected your people feel to each other, the more connected they are to your culture.
If team relationships are the secret sauce to a powerful team culture, what ingredients will it take to make you the champion of a powerful culture-building engine?
Traditional happy hours, evenings at Topgolf, and contrived rope courses are stale, promoting mere surface-level interactions that do nothing to bring your team together on a deeper level.
What truly works? You already know the answer. You’ve experienced it before. For thousands of years, humans built the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood through memorable, challenging, and stunning shared experiences.
Have you ever gone on a camping trip with your friends, rappelled off a remote cliff, snowboarded through a white wonderland, or tackled a daunting hike that helped you push past your perceived limits through the positivity and encouragement of your peers?
Transforming shared struggles in a new environment into shared victories is the oldest form of bonding, a powerful way to rally our teams around shared cultures and breathe life into our core values.
Regardless of the activity, no matter how big or small, the goal is to challenge your team members to push past their perceived limits and accomplish what they never thought possible. The most important factor isn’t what you do with your team, but why you do it.
Linking the challenge to a philanthropic cause – like raising money per man-mile hiked – can create an impactful experience where overcoming a personal struggle contributes to the success of a larger cause. While the mission is philanthropic, studies show such outdoor excursions can have a real impact on your bottom line. The ROI can be as much as $1,000 per person per year!
There are several ways to make such outdoor experiences possible. For example, you could hire a guide or empower an outdoorsy employee to take the lead. However, these unique culture-building initiatives tend to be most successful when they come from the top. Just as the leadership of a company sets the tone for the culture, it is imperative for a C-level executive or partner to take ownership of the experience and rally the rest of the company to get on board.
Capitalize on the same risk-taking, adventurous spirit that led you to a leadership role in the first place. Create amazing connections between team members in brand new environments.