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7 Tips To Use Serious Games To Resolve Workplace Conflicts And Facilitate Team Building

April 22, 2019 | By Asha Pandey


Conflict resolution is a complex and delicate process. Use your online training tools to take the heat out of the situation and gamify the online training experience.                  

How To Use Serious Games To Impart Conflict Resolution Skills And Facilitate Team Building

The word “game” when paired with “serious” sounds like an oxymoron, like “friendly fire”. It’s a powerful idea though, that is becoming more and more relevant when dealing with complex workplace scenarios. Using some of the key elements of gaming – competition, collaboration, challenge and curiosity – serious games offer an immersive online training experience. A world where a version of yourself can roleplay, practice skills or take a risk is a liberating prospect. With careful investment in the right tools, online training can provide unparalleled opportunities for teams to resolve issues and thrive through serious games.

Taking The Heat Out Of Conflict

Conflict resolution in the workplace has traditionally centered around the capabilities of managers to bring individuals together and offer mediation. After looking into the details and giving each party the opportunity to identify solutions, the manager must achieve agreement. A tall order, especially in an operating environment where many colleagues are no longer co-located. If you can’t have this conversation face to face, it becomes very difficult.

This is where online conflict resolution comes into play. Using a gamified online training experience, involving the impacted individuals, the availability of possible solutions becomes more obvious. Serious games such as a negotiation role-play or a money-making competition teach players how to cooperate and build coalitions. To build serious games that facilitate conflict resolution, focus on the following elements:

  1. Build Trust

In conflict, trust has usually seriously broken down. Aim to challenge corporate learners to work together, to prove they can trust each other to work towards a shared goal. For example, they must work together to gather enough points to win the quiz show. This also encourages them to build an effective team dynamic and use each other’s strengths to succeed.

  1. Focus On The Value Of Long-Term Decisions

Allow corporate learners to see the benefits of long-term agreements rather than seeing short-term benefits. Serious games must enable them to see things from another perspective, as well. For example, include characters from diverse backgrounds so that employees discover how their behaviors and actions have an impact on peers from different walks of life.

  1. Introduce The Concept Of Fairness

Negotiation games are excellent in demonstrating how all parties can act with fairness. In conflict, generally, one or both parties feel disadvantaged by the other’s actions. Life may not be fair, but serious games allow them to see how valuing other’s opinions and having empathy can benefit everyone in the long run.

Building Teams Through Serious Play

As virtual teams become the norm, members can “meet” in serious games. They can carry out tasks together that they wouldn’t be able to do in real life. Even where team members are co-located, serious games give the opportunity to try and fail at new scenarios together.

Imagine a team has been brought together following a company merger. There are a huge number of differences in approach on both sides, and there is a feeling of “them and us”. This may even be literal, with members operating from different offices or even running different processes. An environment where they can imagine a merged process, where everything is running efficiently, is like glimpsing the future. Let the team members practice how it feels to operate together and taste success. In team building, serious games should include:

  1. Opportunities To Succeed, And Fail, Together

The major benefit of an online environment like this is that failure should be encouraged. Taking a risk together, and failing. That’s a powerful online training experience. Changing your approach as a result, and then succeeding; that will transfer into the real world.

  1. Shared Rewards

Just as with any other games, there is much to be gained from digital rewards. Build a sense of competition such as beating a clock, ticking off all the challenges or getting 100% in a team quiz. Fun is an important part of team building; as much as serious games are for learning, they should be enjoyable, too.

  1. Building Coalitions

Foster interactions where friendships and collaborations can occur. Let teams chat together either via voice or messenger chat tools. Make it enticing for each member to participate by giving everyone a role so that no one is left behind. Team-centered games such as game shows or project simulations are also great additions that impart conflict resolution skills.

  1. Social Media Follow-Up

Give employees the power to carry on the conversation and provide eLearning feedback after the fact. Social media groups and online discussions allow them to move outside the gaming environment to apply what they’ve learned. For example, they can engage with co-workers from around the globe to share their serious game experience and what they discovered. Such as performance issues they revealed or assumptions that were hindering their team building efforts.

Context, as ever, is everything in eLearning. Where conflicts are concerned, that all-important role of the managers doesn’t disappear. Instead, they evolve into a guiding role, helping individuals process what they are learning. There is an important context-setting piece in any serious game that must take place, every time. We can all benefit from serious games if we understand why we are playing. There must be communication wrapped around the game, which explains how the game allows the corporate learner to develop. There should always be opportunities to ask questions and get help in case the game isn’t obvious in itself. And, most importantly, in some way – online or otherwise – there should be a social element. This allows corporate learners to collaborate and digest what just took place. They can then learn lessons and agree on how to adopt new behaviors in their day-to-day roles.

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