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There is talk that our company is going to conduct a major team-building program, culminating in having the employees do what is called a "fire walk." I understand this means that we will be walking on hot embers. Could this be true? If it is, several of us don't want any part of it.

It sounds like the proposed team-building program is already working, since several of you have coalesced into a team that opposes the whole thing. As for your question, the answer is, yes, there are some hot programs that indeed finish up with the participants putting their feet to the fire.

There is considerable debate over the value of these programs, whether they have the participants walking on fire, climbing ropes, riding mechanical bulls, or playing with blocks. There is much to be said for experiential learning, and there are widespread credible supporters who contend that these types of programs have a positive permanent impact on employee cohesiveness, growth, and productivity.

At the same time, there are other credible sources who question the value of these programs, contending that there is minimal transference to the job, and the so-called amazing feats, such as fire walking, can be easily explained away.

As for your concern about fire walking per se, there have been countless glowing reports, along with a few indicating that the amazing feat ended up being blistered feet. At this point, you need to talk to management and find out all you can about the program. If it is sprung on you as a surprise, that's not saying much for your company's true commitment to teamwork. And, at the end of the day, if you are not fired up about doing a fire walk, pass on it.

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