Any leader who cares about employee engagement understands that the process isn’t always fun and fun. On the contrary, one of the hardest endeavors a leader can undertake is to ignite people’s passion for the role they play. Plus, the process becomes exponentially complex when you add employee critical thinking development, strategic planning, and pattern recognition into the mix. And as certification training becomes the norm, employees become desensitized and less eager to learn. For them, training is just another check in the box.

When traditional methods fall short of expectations, it’s time to spice them up. A little lateral thinking can go a long way. Implementing out-of-the-box strategies to boost learning is a simple way to increase employee engagement while boosting productivity. A fantastic recommendation is to organize a chess tournament at the workplace. That’s right, chess.

Why chess? Chess is more than a game. It’s an art that has the power to break the monotony while unlocking the potential of your employees. Like business, it’s a mind game that tries to gain the advantage, maintain the initiative and beat the competition. In my opinion, there is no better way to increase strategic ability than chess. Although I play chess recreationally, the secondary perks have been exceptional and have improved many of my essential trading abilities.

Here are some abilities that have been improved:

Chess and critical thinking.

Chess is a game where you have to think first before you move. A player can pose and face multiple threats at the same time. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the board and collect data to identify the optimal movement. When players reflect on their actions, they activate brain regions associated with abstract reasoning, thus developing their capacity for analysis.

It’s a matter of neuroscience. The act of learning changes brain patterns. With more practice comes more skill because we are rewiring our brain’s communication network. And that’s the best part; when we play chess, we remap our brains to solve problems.

Online or in the office, a chess tournament would stimulate neurons and test the critical thinking of your employees. Your team will enjoy the event while mapping a new neural blueprint! You never know how far down the rabbit hole they will go.

Chess and strategy:

Every organization needs strategic thinkers. They align the present with the future. And chess is the ULTIMATE strategy game. The strategic principles vary greatly between choosing an opening, playing against the psychological weakness of our opponent, or sacrificing material in compensation. And in the information age, balancing similar business interests while striking with decisive timing is crucial for any industry.

Implementing a workplace chess encounter offers a fun way to build employees’ strategic thinking skills. Humans are creatures of habit, and building strategic habits requires a rule: The more we practice, the more proficient we become. With this rule in mind, leaders can use failures informatively to coach employees in evaluating mistakes and designing strategic lines to better move forward.

Pattern recognition:

Computing technology has transformed the way organizations interpret and analyze data to such an extent that it is risky to operate without predictive analytics. To mitigate risk, organizations are looking deeper to acquire talent that can navigate data and recognize patterns in the system.

Chess offers an abstract orchestra of patterns. Players eagerly assess the board for the correct logical sequence as the pieces collide. It is an enchanting orchestra where each element plays its part. It’s easy to get lost in the symphony as you search for the right fork, skewer or pin to defeat your opponent. A chess tournament could be the music needed to reignite inspiration.

Whether you are an experienced player or not, the game of chess has a magical way of bringing people together. I have implemented failures in past team building activities and reaped the rewards. As a one-time break from the norm or as a chess team of dedicated monthly employees, chess will engage your employees and develop critical skills. If your training and development program needs a little artistic spice, I recommend you do the same. Your initiative could be the right way to engage your employees and increase the skills you desire in them. It’s just a matter of taking the first step.


Written by Ernest R. Twigg.

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