by Michael Clark
All types of businesses have recognized the need to promote teamwork and collaboration among employees. And in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely that this need will be taken even more seriously. Teams grew apart in 2020, by no fault of their own, and a little awkwardness as things ease back toward normal is to be expected.
Moving forward, business owners and team leaders are going to be looking for new and effective ways to bring people together and re-establish (or even improve!) company culture. Naturally, there are a lot of options — limited only by a leader’s creativity, really. One somewhat unorthodox option? Holding occasional team poker games.
There was an interesting article written in the year 2021 about how to keep company culture intact upon returning from pandemic conditions. One of its key points was that leaders should “focus on showing sensitivity” rather than initiate too many team-building activities.
This is absolutely an important notion. Employees have had an extraordinarily stressful time, and rushing or forcing a “return to normal” through mandated team-building is likely only going to make things worse. Organizing the occasional casual poker game for a team, however, is something of a recreational alternative. It still functions as team-building, but particularly if it’s not mandated it can remain a low-pressure option.
It’s the sort of thing that gives employees the option of socializing and reacquainting themselves with social dynamics, but won’t make them feel as if they’re being forced into close contact or artificial exercises.
Adding to the low-pressure nature of poker as a team-building activity is that it’s also flexible. It’s something team members can do in person, either in a designated office space, at a public video, or at someone’s home (if it’s appropriate with the team dynamic).
It is also easy, however, to play poker with friends online via a number of high-quality apps and websites. Many still assume such online options require cash deposits or real-money betting, but the truth is a lot of them have simple, free-play options as well.
So, if team members want to ease back into things but aren’t necessarily up for too much in-person recreation, online games can give them a chance to play and socialize in a comfortable manner.
It’s always nice to find a team exercise that also teaches useful individual skills, and poker is just that.
This is a game in which people learn to be patient, stay calm in tricky situations, prize strategy and analysis over emotion, and communicate effectively. All of these perks can make people more effective professionals, which is an added bonus to the team-building of poker games.
Poker is sometimes framed as a serious activity since it’s mostly shown as having high stakes.
We see World Series of Poker events on TV, for instance, or climactic film scenes that take place around poker tables in Vegas. In these instances, players are deadly serious and the game seems anything but social. In the real world though, a lot of players will argue that the best part of poker is the social aspect of it — the chance to make friends and strengthen bonds over food, drinks and conversation while a card game happens to be going on.
Without the extreme stakes we see in movies and on TV, poker is just a game, and one that invites cheerful conversation and laughter. Teams are likely to grow closer at the table! Compassion and care are important in business environments. If and when people are ready to ease into some team activity though, poker can truly be an effective option.
Source: Six Degrees Society
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