playing games teaches team work

How Playing Games Can Improve Teamwork

Published on May 27, 2019 by Darius Lomsargis

Innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, cross functional co-operation, practical leadership and all the other words that we’re already sick of, because that’s how those amazing and absolutely “perfect” companies operate — we bet it’s something you still think is out of your league.

You can blame the limited resources you have, the unmotivated and incompatible people surrounding you, the unachievable goals or undefeatable competitors. But most likely, you just don’t know how to achieve it, how to change not only yours, but the whole team’s approach. It’s easier to complain and remain in the comfort zone OR work extremely hard but not necessarily with visible results. Unless… there’s an easy, pleasant and entertaining way to get out of it.

We’ll break it down for you quickly just by answering the question, what is more fun than working? Playing games, of course.

playing games teaches team work

Scientific evidence

The human brain is so amazing, that it cannot distinguish reality from imagination. Even if a certain situation is only in person’s mind, the brain will make the body react as if it was happening for real.

A quick example: remember yourself at school, sitting at your desk and listening to the mathematics teacher explaining equations. She’s writing on the blackboard with a piece of chalk, when she suddenly misses and scratches the board with her nail. Did you just hear that annoying sound in your head? Did you feel the shivers down your spine?

The neurons in your brain were triggered by a single memory, a certain mental picture, and your body has made the connection. It was very easy to trick your brain, right?

That’s why playing games is so powerful in the context of business. Simulation games can seem like a simple and forgettable activity, though it’s important what games are played and how. Played right, games are not only a short break from real work, they are a tool to create a better reality. Because the discoveries made and skills earned during a game session will be “saved” in your brain for a use in other situations.

What games are we talking about?

Clearly, not the video games, since they’re mostly played individually. Not the popular Monopoly either, because it’s competitive and fear-based. And not the games, which are won by luck, for example, by getting the highest cards. We’re talking EnterTraining type of games.

EnterTraining is a concept that combines training and entertainment (just in case someone needed an explanation). It implements the same principles as in any company: the resources are used to achieve certain goals and then be awarded. The resources are knowledge and skills, the goals are challenges and the award is motivation.

There are different types of game-based training, for example, board games (such as FreshBiz, Trade Winds), musical experiences (Orchestrate, Crescendo), interactive business simulations (The Infinite Loop, Peak Performance) and more. What they all have in common is that it involves live communication, competitive tasks, co-operation between all participants and it’s not only fun but also a learning experience.

And what’s the most essential: everyone wins here. Even the team that takes the last place. Because the gold medal isn’t the goal here.

playing games teaches team work

The advantages of playing the games

It may sound like a hyperbolic statement, especially if you’re still a little sceptical about this thing, but it’s proven: playing such games with your team has a lasting positive effect for the whole company, even though one session takes only 2–3 hours. These are a few of the main advantages of implementing the EnterTraining concept:

  1. Each game has a unique theme, but also a different purpose — depending on the company needs, certain skills can be trained: strategical thinking, problem solving, customer service, time management, networking. Basically, everything.
  2. It’s a team building experience, unifying the whole group. It breaks down the silo mentality (a mindset, when certain departments in the company do not share information with others in the same company). Playful and unofficial environment helps everyone relax and communicate openly.
  3. The challenges are complex and require a set of different skills — that’s a perfect way to unveil everyone’s individual abilities and find out how to combine them. It also helps to understand your own and each other’s work style better.
  4. It improves communication, since it is one of the main factors of team success.
  5. Overcoming challenges together boosts employees’ engagement, inspires and motivates the team to continue working towards common goals.

There are plenty more benefits of such game-based learning activities, but most importantly — all of the insights, gained during the sessions, are literally life changing. Or at least, changing your approach to life.

So, if you’re still feeling the struggle of forming new habits and gaining new skills, individually or as a team, have in mind that there are ways of tricking your brain.

Darius Lomsargis

Founder of UPAS Events & Catalyst Baltics

Facilitator of EnterTraining programs, mentor, entrepreneur, representative of international team building network Catalyst Global in the Baltic States, co-owner of agency ŪPAS Events.

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