Exploding the doldrums: unconventional wisdom to rally the troops.

Author:Smith, Jason Matthew
Position:Executiveliving
 
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SO THE EMPLOYEES are at war: they're shooting snarky e-mails back and forth. The clients are disgruntled and complain of feeling "disconnected" from the company. Or the franchisees are threatening a revolt.

Some experts suggest shoving them out of an airplane.

And by "shove," we mean a hearty slap on their parachute-clad backs; enough to get them out of the plane, anyway. Utah companies and CEO's have discovered that one of the best ways to foster camaraderie among employees, clients, or franchisees is to do something unusual--like take the staff skydiving.

Skydive Utah's Jack Guthrie has seen a whopping increase in the number of companies bringing employees or clients into his hangar. Guthrie's business is booming, thanks to Utah businesses that have figured out the employees who risk life and limb together, stay together. "A lot of these companies do it for a reward--most are for performance-based occupations," Guthrie says.

But companies and execs don't necessarily have to push clients out of a Cessna in order to foster relationships. Sometimes, it's the little things that count. Jerry Gulden, president of Park City's SoundTube Entertainment, knows that keeping people involved is just as important as keeping them informed. "Over the years we have involved our partners, reps, customers and employees in any variety of original events, including the Olympic bobsled track in Park City, go-cart racing, concerts, movies, snowsports, fishing and camping," he says.

But SoundTube, which manufactures and develops audio speakers for clients such as Old Navy and Gold's Gym, takes it a step beyond free sodas for employees. The company outfitted a loft above the main sales and marketing office with a drum set, guitars and amps for impromptu jam sessions; wild colors, creative posters and interesting design elements accent the decor. Those "jam sessions" allow employees or clients to blow off some steam, cut loose during the post-lunch doldrums, and more importantly, bond over a stab at Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Gulden believes that forging relationships with employees and clients means trying something new and creative, going beyond an occasional pizza party. "We've had great success in maintaining highly effective employees by offering a creative and demanding workplace," he says. "Since...

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