Spades As A Corporate Team-Building Exercise: Yay Or Nay?

In the corporate world, there’s a constant need to develop practical team-building exercises that will help the team bond and work productively. Those engaged with this quest often come up with unconventional ideas that are entertaining and encourage the members of a group to work together. These activities lay a lot of emphasis on team building and cooperation. Scavenger hunts and office trivia are tried-and-tested team-building exercises that have been around for decades. If you are looking to include something fresh and exciting during the next office retreat, Spades is a good contender. Spades is a card game that needs no introduction. It has been around since the 1930s, and people of all ages have played this trick-taking card game once or twice. So, it is not an exaggeration to assume that your team members are already aware of the game, and some might even play online Spades for money during their free time. However, before you start shuffling the deck, here are the strengths and weaknesses of the Spades game that you must consider. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether this trick-taking game is a team-building tool or not.

What makes Spades a potential contender for team-building exercise?

●     Fosters collaboration and communication

The Spades game is played among four to six people, and the game’s core revolves around communication. Although online platforms promote solo matches competing against opponents, the game can be played as a partnership. The partnership playing style is best if you use this game as a team-building tool.

When playing in partnership, the team members will need to strategize together, bid, and adapt according to the situation. This fosters clear communication and mirrors the demands of real-world teamwork.

●     Teaches adaptability and problem-solving skills

Playing Spades teaches the skills of observing and understanding opponents, coming up with strategies, and adjusting those strategies on the fly. These are critical skills that are highly valued in any professional setting. Hence, adding this game as a team-building tool will strengthen the skills of your team members and allow them to adjust to changing situations easily.

●     Fosters camaraderie and lighthearted competition

Spades is not an intense team-building exercise as it doesn’t require the participants to use their physical strength. For instance, scavenger hunts can be physically exhausting. Instead, it creates a relaxed environment where the team members can feel comfortable opening up while playing the game. The game involves quick rounds and witty bluffing. Also, the game has humorous elements when partners try to communicate but fail or pass some comments to disarm the opponents. All of this helps foster positive team spirit and build camaraderie among team members.

●     The perfect icebreaker and alleviates stress

Spades can be a casual icebreaker if you have just finished onboarding new employees for your team. You can use this game to make the team members introduce themselves through fun and games. Playing this card game also offers a break from all the stresses of work. Although nobody is asking you to replace all the other team-building exercises and activities with Spades, you can add this as an additional exercise. You can start with this game, as it helps create a relaxing environment and ease into other exercises.

What are the potential drawbacks of playing Spades?

●     Comfort and skill level disparity

It would help if you considered that not all the team members have the same skill levels. Some of them might even be averse to playing card games. You must consider the team members’ skill and comfort level before including Spades as a team-building exercise. It would be better to take a poll.

●     This may lead to unhealthy competition

Some team members might be overly competitive, which may make them focus on winning the game instead of collaborating with others. This might undermine the team-building aspect of this game. Hence, you must set clear expectations from the very start so everyone is clear on the goal that needs to be achieved.

●     Cultural considerations

Unfortunately, not all cultures are familiar with card games. As such, you must be mindful of cultural preferences and sensitivities before choosing.

Things to do before you start shuffling and dealing the cards

  • Survey the team to analyze their interest in card games. You can even take a poll on whether they like playing Spades or have heard of the game before. It is important that the majority of the team members feel comfortable with the game.
  • Clear ground rules must be set regarding sportsmanship, competitiveness, and communication.
  • It would help if you had alternative activities for team members who might not be interested in playing Spades. This will encourage the participation of all the team members without pressuring them.
  • It would help if you assigned someone as a facilitator so the players can get the support and guidance required to play the game. Even post-game discussions can be hosted as this will help to reflect on learnings and team dynamics.

What factors should you consider before choosing Spades as a team-building exercise?

  • The team’s comfort levels, interests, and cultural sensitivities must be considered. You must not force the team members to participate, as this might be counterproductive.
  • The size of the team might pose a challenge with Spades because this game is generally enjoyed by four to six players. However, you can break up the team members into sub-teams so everyone can play the game in small batches.
  • The company’s culture is also a factor of consideration. Check whether a competitive card game aligns with the culture of the company.

So, yay or nay for Spades is one of the corporate team-building exercises?

There’s no clear answer to this question. Spades is a competitive, collaborative, and highly stimulating card game that teaches players various skills, such as partnership, strategic thinking, and the ability to adapt to various situations. It also teaches them problem-solving skills. All of these skills are highly valued in a professional setting.

The decision depends on your company’s culture and the team members’ interests.

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