Success in the workplace depends on your ability to build a team, as well as to interact with others on that team. Together, people are able to accomplish what one person alone cannot. This is known as synergy.
- A Common Goal
Effective teams have a common goal. They have one shared objective that each team member is working toward. This goal is unambiguous, known to all team members, motivating, and has a clear path to achievement.
An ambiguous goal can never be achieved satisfactorily. Ambiguous goals have ambiguous outcomes with numerous varying approaches. These varying approaches will be debated within the group creating discord.
If the goal is not known to all team members, the approach will not make sense to those in the dark and team members will be unmotivated to complete the necessary tasks. Once the goal is unambiguous and known to all team members, it becomes motivating and the clear path to achievement will reveal itself.
In the introduction to an escape room, the game-master provides this common goal “Discover the serial killers true identity before he strikes again.” or “Rid the tormented spirit from the haunted cottage.” This common goal motivates the team to work together along the path to achievement searching the room, solving the puzzles, unveiling the story. Once the common goal is completed, the team can assess their effectiveness in a post-game discussion.
- Open Communication
The foundation of effective teamwork is good communication. As with the common goal, all communication should be unambiguous and shared with all team members. Without any communication, the goal will never be achieved. With bad communication, the goal may be achieved eventually, but the process will involve duplication of tasks, unnecessary tasks, frustration and confusion. Good communication involves accurately dispensing knowledge, an environment where team members can freely express their thoughts and opinions, trust, and, of course, a whole lot of listening.
- Team Roles
Establishing defined team roles, with a respect for each role’s part in achieving the common goal, is an essential part of effective teamwork. A team can be broken down to 3 team roles: leaders, strategists, and workers. An effective team will include all three roles; however, each team member may possess qualities of more than one role.
The workers will have a narrow focus on the current necessary tasks to progress along the path, finding obstacles along the way. The strategists will develop strategies for overcoming the obstacles with a broader focus on the path to the common goal. And the leader, with the common goal in mind, will decide on the best strategy and delegate the tasks back to the workers.
In an escape room, the workers will search for clues and puzzles that the strategists can then come up with solutions to. The leaders will keep everything on track and get the team to regroup when the goal is forgotten. This set of complimentary roles will show the value of each team member and highlight their strengths. The division of labour will encourage each team member to participate and excel in their role. A certain level of trust must be given to members for their efforts within their role and these efforts should be recognised for their advancement toward the common goal.
- Time Management
Effective teams use what precious time they have efficiently. Once the next necessary task is identified, they focus on that task until completion or it becomes redundant. Decisions on the necessity of a task is left to a leader who makes the decision swiftly and definitively.
Discussion and debate are open but concise. Once a decision is made the discussion ends, however, with new information ego doesn’t get in the way of a new plan of action. Each team member manages their time and prioritises their tasks.
From the second you enter an escape room the time starts ticking away. Teams will have to learn to keep calm and not crack under the pressure. Clues from the game-master are a tool at the team’s disposal. They must make crucial decisions between spending another 5 minutes trying to find a solution or to ask for help. Teams that overestimate their abilities may see their ego blocking their victory.
- Practical Problem Solving
Along the path to the common goal lie many problems. An effective team identify these problems and solve them practically. They understand that most of the effort in problem solving is in correctly identifying the real problem. Once it correctly identified, a problem becomes exponentially easier to solve.
Effective teams embrace problems as they arise. Problems aren’t something to be ignored in the hopes they will disappear. A new problem is seen as a new opportunity to progress further along the path to the common goal.
Problem solving through puzzles is at the heart of the escape room experience. Teams must think outside the box and use their observational and dexterity skills in order to progress in the game. Each problem will have one logical solution and, once found, there will be no doubt if it is correct. This helps teams build momentum solving puzzle after puzzle.
A happy team is an effective team. Team members must trust one another to perform and also have each others back when they fail. Teams will thrive with a mentality of mutual accomplishment and mutual defeats A win is a team win; A loss is a team loss.
Escape rooms bring colleagues closer together and generate a sense of achievement when completed. Teams leave on an adrenaline high and the shared experience is relived through conversation.
Following are the characteristics of a Good/Effective team:
- A clear, elevating goal: This is a goal which has been communicated to all.
- A results-driven structure: The goal has been jointly decided by all the team members. They are fully committed towards achieving it.
- Competent members: Each team member has the required skill set in order to achieve the team objectives.
- Unified commitment: There is nothing happening in silos. With the total commitment from team members, achieving organizational goals becomes easier.
- A collaborative climate: Commitment from team members and a good leadership leads to a collaborative team with a productive work environment.
- Standards of excellence: Quality orientation is vital to the success of any organization.
- External support and recognition: Appreciation as well as appraisal is required to keep the morale of the team high.
- Principled leadership: Leadership defines a team. An able-bodied leadership can chart the team’s path to success.
Each team member participates actively and positively in meetings as well as projects. This shows a person’s commitment as well as understanding towards a project.
- Team goals are clearly understood by all: Communication is vital for achieving successful completion of any project.
Individual members have thought about creative solutions to the team’s problem. Thinking out of the box is vital in today’s economic scenario.
Members are listened to carefully as well as given a thoughtful feedback. Listening is an important skill for any team. Each team member is important. The thoughts and ideas of each team member have to be listened to, with respect, no matter how silly they may sound at first.
Everyone takes the initiative in order to get things done. There is no concept of passing the buck. This is an indication of clear communication leading to understanding of individual responsibilities.
- Each team member trusts the judgment of others: Mutual trust and respect is highly important for the team. This is the only way to achieve the organization goals.
- The team has to be willing to take risks: Risk taking is an attitude which comes with confidence. Confidence on yourself as well as on the team, besides the ability to face all consequences.
Everyone has to be supportive of the project as well as of others. A team is one unit. Unless these cohesive forces are there, the team will never be able to work efficiently enough.
There is ample communication between the team members.
Team decisions are made by using organized as well as logical methods.
- Dissenting opinions are never ignored: In fact, they are always recorded in order to be revisited in case the future situations dictate so.
- Teams are given realistic deadlines: External support as well as aid is vital to the success of any team.
- An efficient team needs support from both inside and outside. It needs to meet the individual needs of its members in order to achieve the organization’s goals.