Let’s be clear from the start! It’s not the children directly, who will teach you how to improve your team leadership skills.
But what if we told you that you, as a team leader or manager, can learn a lot just by watching children play and interact with each other?
To play or not to play, at the workplace?
According to this report from the American Academy of Paediatrics, “playing” is essential for child development. Not only does it contribute to the cognitive, physical and emotional well-being of children, it creates perfect situations to develop social skills and engagement with other people.
As a team leader, your job is more than providing reports and taking important decisions. If you want to improve your team leadership skills, a big part of your job is to engage with your team.
What happens if we don’t play at the workplace
Playing is as important for kids as for adults. The only difference is the games we play. According to Eric Berne, people never stop playing games. Some of them can be degenerative but others improve our life. But we never stop playing as long as we live.
We know from research that children who are exposed to a high level activities, either in individual sports/computer science etc. and have less time to play, are often less creative as adults. Although, some perform better in their chosen areas, when they start young, they can lack social skills and creativity in problem solving. Indeed, they may have more difficulties working in a team than others, who didn’t initially excel but who at the end of the day are more able to create new solutions for and in their team.
Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, when compared to one working alone, they work more efficiently and are able to complete tasks more effectively. This is due to the benefit of many minds being focused on the same goals and objectives.
In summary, playing makes us work together: a team, working together, always leads to better results. Therefore, you can be a good team leader, by encouraging your team play. It looks easy, right?
“We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stopped playing”. Oliver Wendell Holmes
Why should we play like children at our workplace
When we say “play like children” we don’t mean play the same games and have a childish attitude. The purpose is to have fun with your work, transforming it into a game that can be played. This is a great way to improve leadership skills in your company.
Why should we use games to do serious work?
Today the role of play as a “social innovation” is attracting emerging research attention. The psychology of play recognises the benefits of incorporating play and “playing games” at work. Therefore, it’s being quickly adopted by the best companies that are always trying to remain a step ahead.
But why look at playing as a new trend, when we can just look at our children.
We know that playing at the workplace not only affects your team leadership in a positive way. We also know that it affects how your team interacts emotionally and it helps in having a collaborative attitude towards the end goal.
If you are a bit afraid to use the word “play” as a work process, use the trending “serious games” term. These engage users in their pursuit and contribute to the achievement of a defined purpose other than pure entertainment.
Play to build, create and improve communications skills
When two or more children improvise any collaborative game to play together, we often see them quickly establishing the goal of the game and some rules. They join forces either to build a sand castle at the beach or create a fantasy dinner for their parents. To have more fun they need to communicate.
Therefore, it is relevant to study how kids play, communicate and work together to improve your leadership skills. Remember, at the end of the day, your goal is not only to enable your team to have fun, is it? It is to improve performance, their job satisfaction and to increase work pace. If fun and play can create the perfect environment for these goals, shouldn’t you try to apply these “kids” tactics?
Play to motivate
In our daily work as Team Builders, we face some organisations that struggle to keep people motivated and engaged. We all know that motivated and engaged people, who know how to collaborate with everybody involved, produce better and faster results. Work is serious and will always be so, but this does not mean we cannot change the way in which we work and it definitely does not mean that we cannot have fun while doing it. This is why we frequently play games as a team, but also with our customers.
Play to promote Engagement
When we challenge almost anyone to a game, we immediately see their expressions change. They are getting more focused and concentrated. They are expecting something, and their brains are more alert. It’s kind of a primordial instinct that dominates our brain. People immediately engage in the game and move automatically. You’ll notice similar engagement in a football game with your colleagues, computer games and other playful things we enter. It’s this kind of engagement that we want to have in the office when we tackle serious problems. When you have people who are less or, in the worst case, not engaged, trying to solve the problem at hand, you most probably will end up with a sub-optimal solution. This kind of sub-optimal solution to problems will accumulate tension between team members, employees and, in some cases, your customers. A tension that builds up and up until it explodes.
Play to enhance Team work
No matter if it is a brainstorming session or any other meeting/setting, where more than one person must work with another, playing helps to channel emotions and builds flow into the discussions people have. Like kids playing, good Team Leadership skills incorporate teamwork strategies and enable good communication skills.
Remember how kids organize their play? What is the goal and rules of the process (“game”)? And, if you can make it a little fun, that’s the cherry on top of the cake. Team leaders will see their team become more efficient and productive. Your team members will help each other, allowing the workload to be shared while reducing the pressure on individuals. You’ll see tasks being completed within a better time frame.
Teamwork provides great learning opportunities
Working in a good team environment enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. We are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.
In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solving.
Isn’t this the way kids learn?
Play to learn faster
Kids are always learning! Why aren’t we? Is there a specific social rule that says that adults have nothing else to learn and they can’t play anymore?
The world is rotating faster than ever. Do you think we can stop learning? That’s another thing we can learn from kids: how to learn better and faster! Kids learn a lot when their playing. They improve their motor skills, their ability to problem solving and how to be creative. Learning doesn’t only mean memorizing a bunch of boring corporate processes. Of course, we have to do it to. But if we create a game out of it, believe us, learning will be a lot faster and efficient.
If you’re still attached to an idea that a good job must but tedious and boring and that having fun and play at the workplace is a thing for new tech companies and hipsters, you’re missing a great opportunity to improve your team leadership skills.
If you’re new at this, just take it slow. Baby steps. Talk to a good team building company like Team Dynamics. We have a range of collaborative games that can enable you and your team to work better together, whilst having fun. We, then help you implement those learning opportunities at your workplace. We’ll help you to create eco-systems to improve your team engagement, collaboration and fun.
Download our infographic to get some team building activity ideas that we have available at Team Dynamics.