I’ve always found escape rooms to be a microcosm of the workplace in that you have a team working together to complete a common goal within a set amount of time. I’ve worked at Bond’s Escape Room for three years, and during my time I’ve written hundreds of puzzles and watched countless groups try to solve them. I’ve observed many players and corporate teams hash out various strategies for success; however, few have actually worked. In order to “escape,” groups must communicate effectively, think critically, and make-up for each other’s weaknesses. In many cases, a leader naturally emerges to delegate and take charge of the group. I believe these workplace like games can be invaluable for understanding the inner workings of a team.
- A strong leader encourages communication. In any team, you’re likely to have a few loudmouths mixed in with a few oath-of-silence bound monks. From my experience, I think everyone in a team has something worth contributing, but some members may be more reserved. A strong leader will make that quieter member of the team feel comfortable and encourage them to participate according to their strengths. In some cases, members in a group forget to keep communication open-ended. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard two people get close to finishing puzzle but not tell each other. A strong leader makes sure the team is working collaboratively and that all voices are heard for greater success.
- A good leader doesn’t need the glory. There is always someone who wants to be the hero – complete the puzzle by themselves and receive all the glory. I’ve seen many players solve a puzzle unlocking a new compartment, and have an impression of what they need to do next. Then charge wildly in that direction (whether it’s correct or not). When a team member sacrifices tactfulness for the chance to be the one who solves the problem first, it wastes time that could have been used collaboratively. For an effective leader, group success over individual success is more important.
- An effective team manages its resources efficiently. The escape room games last sixty minutes, so efficiency is key to a team’s success. Your team members are your resources, and it’s important to establish your member’s strengths early on. Much like in a workplace, there are many tasks that need to be completed, which require different team members skill sets. It’s essential to make sure the right person is working on the right step. The better a leader knows their team, the better they can understand how to distribute the work for the best possible outcome.
A team that works well together in an escape room environment is inclined to work well together in other important scenarios as well.