Using problem solving to improve your team’s dynamics

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Strong working relationships have always been key to a successful business and even more so whilst so many of us are working remotely and away from our team members. There is probably no job out there that doesn’t rely on teamwork and collaboration with at least one other colleague, and it’s important not to lose the appreciation of a team.

Virtual Team Building

Most people have experienced team bonding exercises in some form, and although it can be easy to roll your eyes when asked to attend, they can be incredibly beneficial as a way to step back, review how your team communicates and refresh your creative thinking.

There’s a host of great physical team bonding options (and plenty of these are now being done online now) from navigating a maze, solving a complex riddle or busting out of an escape room. We take a look at how these kinds of practical exercises can improve your team dynamic.

• Driving decision making

You might be thinking that you have a lovely team who are calm, quiet and never have conflict, so why would they need a team-building exercise? However, do they have the confidence to make quick, impactful decisions under pressure? Or can they be too polite with an “I don’t mind approach”? An escape room or puzzle activity is a great way to force a team to make united decisions quickly (or for one leader to have to step up and make the decision for the team) and help them understand the power of strong decision-making capabilities.

• Shining a light on natural leaders

As mentioned above, these kinds of team building tasks often require one person to take the lead or at the very least oversee the team activity. If you have a new team working under you, it can be a good environment to see who naturally shines as a leader and the overall team dynamic. If you have someone in your team who can get easily overshadowed or hasn’t got the belief in their abilities, a team puzzle-solving activity can be a great way to put that person forward and encourage them to try a leadership role and receive positive feedback on their work.

• Reinforcing basic time management skills

Whilst working remotely, it can be easy to get a little distracted and not feel the same pressure as you would when surrounded by your team in an office environment. However, no one should be micro-managed, and an escape room can be a helpful way to reinvigorate working to a tight deadline. Most have to be completed within an hour, which usually flies by. This surge of adrenaline and productivity often carries back to the work environment, whether at home or in the office.

• Creative problem solving

We all lose our oomph sometimes and can be guilty of approaching work processes and problems in the same way, with a “this is how we’ve always done it” mindsight. An escape room is usually set in a completely creative, unique environment with very different problems and puzzles to solve. Even solving a quick puzzle or setting the team a practical task which is different to their usual day to day roles will help flex those creative muscles. Make sure you then get them to consider how they could apply those creative approaches to their everyday problem-solving.

• Improving communication

It’s a simple one, but setting your team a puzzle-solving task makes them go back to the basics of communication; especially listening carefully and giving team members the space to share their ideas (and responding respectfully!). If you spot any major issues with communication during the game that you also see in the team’s daily work, this can be a helpful way to address it too and help them see the impact poor communication can have.

• Sharing success and achievements

One of the best things about team bonding exercises like these is they always result in sharing a sense of achievement – even if you don’t beat the escape room or puzzle! Sometimes it can be easy to forget to share success as a team and champion the different strengths each team member has. Stepping away from the normal working environment can really help and remind the team how much they normally achieve day to day. Take time to reflect after the activity to share all the positives of each individual’s contribution and celebrate the team’s achievement.

Even though we can all feel busy, it is so important to take time away from the usual to-do list at work to reinvigorate your team relationships, collaboration and motivation.