Why Is Problem Solving Important For Employee Development?
The biggest organizations in the world rank problem solving third in their skill requirements. Problems are a daily occurrence, and people are called to face them and think of practical and viable solutions. An employee with a problem-solving mindset can work on issues independently and effectively. To achieve that, people must shift their thinking and treat obstacles as opportunities to grow instead of as insurmountable challenges. Problem-solving activities can help them learn to identify the issue, describe the result, and patiently think of possible solutions and their outcomes.
The Benefits Of Problem-Solving Activities
Every professional wants to feel productive in their workplace, and there are a variety of development opportunities. Team activities are a vehicle for coworkers to grow their skills further, especially their problem-solving capabilities. Their critical thinking is encouraged since they need to analyze a situation and evaluate the possible outcomes. They approach each challenge proactively, and their solutions are more likely to be unconventional. Moreover, teamwork improves collaboration and communication skills and builds trust. Individuals learn to self-manage their tasks and responsibilities with extra confidence. Employees get better at time management and prioritize work based on urgency. Therefore, they can handle stressful situations where they must use analytical thinking and help their coworkers remain calm.
8 Team Activities That Build A Problem-Solving Mindset
1. Egg Drop
Many people may have encountered this activity in science class. As it turns out, it is also a great way to help coworkers bond and grow their problem-solving skills. For this activity, members can split into small teams of three to six people. The goal is to create a contraption that will secure and protect the egg from breaking. It has to be effective in case the egg is dropped from a desk or the top of a building. Each team can use any material available around the workplace. Some of the materials include newspapers, paper clips, straws, tape, cotton balls, balloons, etc. Teams have 15 minutes to decide on the best strategy and building materials. They need to brainstorm and think of every possibility before rejecting or accepting it. It is important to imagine all the different outcomes before choosing the best course of action. After 15 minutes, they can start building the device that best protects the egg.
2. Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower is exactly as fun as it sounds. Team members are divided into small groups and are given 20 uncooked sticks of spaghetti, a roll of tape, and small marshmallows. They have 30 minutes to build the highest tower possible using the provided materials and are prohibited from using any additional objects for support. Also, they can add a marshmallow at the top of the tower to test how durable it is. To achieve victory, team members must collaborate and carefully analyze every action. They also need to be very delicate with how they handle the spaghetti since one wrong move can destroy the entire tower.
3. Domino Effect Challenge
This problem-solving activity is an accurate representation of how any business operates, meaning that anything an individual does has an impact on the entire organization. And one problem often needs the collaboration of different teams to be solved. This game is the embodiment of these two principles and very simple to organize. The first steps are to find a domino image you want to recreate and to divide a team into two groups. Separate the image in two equal parts and give them to each team. During a one-hour time frame, teams must prepare their side of the final image. After they’re finished, they will need to combine the two parts in 30 minutes. It is the most tricky part of the game since everyone should show excellent communication skills.
For this game, each team should consist of four to five members. They are provided with a packet of construction materials like card stock, rubber bands, sticky notes, and a blindfold. Teams pick one of their members to be their leader. The goal is to build a shelter to protect themselves from a storm that will hit them in exactly 30 minutes. However, their leader can’t help them due to frostbite, while the rest of the members temporarily can’t see due to snow blindness. So, the leader can only give verbal instructions to the blindfolded members. In the end, they will turn on a fan to check the durability of their construction.
5. Virtual Murder Mystery
Many businesses have shifted to hybrid or fully remote workplaces, but that doesn’t mean they can’t organize fun activities. The entire team will gather in a video meeting, and every participant is given a character and their backstory. One of them will be the murderer. The entire team has to collaborate and analyze the available clues. They must rely on nonverbal communication, like body language and eye contact, to notice any dishonesty. The team decides on the game’s time limit and works closely to uncover the murderer.
6. Shrinking Vessel
This is one of the most bonding problem-solving activities that brings coworkers physically close. All they need is a rope or string they will place on the ground to create a boundary. Each team needs to step inside the rope and pretend it is a slowly shrinking vessel. Someone outside the rope keeps tightening it. As a result, team members have less space to stand on and have to think of creative solutions to fit inside. Every solution is accepted as long as it helps them stay within the rope. The last team standing within the designated area wins.
7. Human Knot
It’s a demanding exercise that doesn’t require splitting into teams. All team members stand in a big circle. Every person must hold hands with two coworkers who are not standing directly next to them. They create a severely tangled circle of arms. A leader who isn’t participating steps in to instruct individuals about their moves. Everyone can pitch in and suggest ideas; however, the leader has a clearer vision of the tangled arms. Thanks to their suggestions, coworkers will start detangling their arms and finally solve the big knot.
8. Cardboard Boat
This activity will make everyone feel like children again and encourage them to tap into their creativity. A team needs to be divided into groups of four to six people. The only materials available are cardboard and tape. The goal is to build a waterproof boat that will not sink when placed in water. Every team has 20 minutes to complete their project. Once finished, they must explain their tactic and why it is superior to others. At last, they need to put their boats in a body of water to check if they are waterproof. To make the challenge harder, they can tie a string at the tip of the boat and race it through the water to check its durability.
Problem-solving activities are not only a fun way to help coworkers interact but also an efficient communication-building tool. Individuals form proactive mindsets that improve their productivity and help them handle risk calmly. Specifically, they learn to reinforce the four Ps: prep, plan, perform, and perfect. They understand how crucial brainstorming is and why respecting different points of view can catapult everyone to success.