Teamwork & Collaboration: Critical Skills through Business Simulations

Team learning

Developing Critical Skillsets

How Business Simulations can help develop the Top Skillsets Employers Want Most

For businesses today, the definition of what counts as a mission-critical skill is evolving. Data and technology are changing the commercial landscape with breakneck speed, and with that change comes an evolution in the kinds of skills, both hard and soft, employers want most. Business education and training providers must find ways to adapt and ensure that learners (in school or on the job) are provided with learning opportunities designed to instill, develop, and refine the critical skills employers look for in today’s business climate.

One of the best ways to do this is through simulation-based learning. Business simulation games give students and trainees experiential learning opportunities that traditional teaching methods simply cannot match. In this series, we will detail how simulation-based learning is being used to help develop some of the most crucial, marketable, and value-added skillsets for students, recent graduates, and employees alike.

Critical Skills: Teamwork & Collaboration

Business education, in all forms, is principally intended to equip future leaders with the tools they need to be successful, and forging an understanding of theory and concepts is only part of the equation. In addition to theoretical foundations of business principles, learners need to acquire practical skills that will be directly applicable on the job.

One of these skills is collaboration, and the ability to thrive in teams. Team-based working ability and collaboration are included in the top skills employers look for in job candidates.

Saul Rubinstein, Professor at Rutgers University and John McCarthy, Assistant Professor at Cornell University recently conducted a national study on collaborative learning in U.S. public schools that found that there are significant and important gains for students when collaboration is encouraged. Their research revealed that schools that foster high levels of collaboration, on average, have a 12.5% percent increase in high-performing students.

And it isn’t just in education where these skills have an impact. Companies like IBM and Xerox are encouraging cross-disciplinary communication and teamwork in efforts to nurture innovative resolutions for business problems. A recent survey of MBA employers, which included companies like Goldman Sachs and Google, rated communication skills alongside strategic thinking as the most sought after yet underperformed skills in recent graduates.

Business Simulations Foster Team-Based Learning and Collaboration

Business simulation games are uniquely suited to prepare students for team-based work. The vast majority of business simulations are played in teams, which mimics the real corporate world, where nothing happens in a vacuum and no man is an island unto himself. Even in single-player mode, simulations place students in dynamic, complex simulated environments where different actors – human or computer-led – impact the way they navigate and compete. Specific elements of simulation-based learning that help to foster teamwork and collaborative skills include:

Collaborative Decision-Making & Problem Solving

The nature of simulation-based learning forces learners to come together – most often in teams – to solve complex problems. This collaborative approach to solving dynamic challenges mirrors the same kind of environment learners face in the workplace.


Pulling students out of the traditional “chalk & talk” lecture learning format and switching to more of a “flipped” classroom approach helps foster communication skills, teaching students how to talk through complexity with people who may think differently.

Delegation & Project Management

Many business simulations place learners in teams and encourage them to assign business-specific roles (i.e. CEO, marketing, HR). Doing so not only helps students tackle the game effectively, but helps to mirror team structures they’ll encounter in the workplace. As such, simulation-learning can help students learn how to effectively delegate and manage team-based work.

Conflict Management

Perhaps one of the most important offshoots of simulation-based learning, as it relates to teamwork skills, is how it gives learners a chance to practice conflict management – but in low-stress, low-stakes scenario. Learners gain experience in dealing with conflict in a safe, simulated environment that helps prepare them for real-world conflict that will inevitably arise on the job.


Business simulations are among the most effective, highly-rated teaching tools for business education. One of the reasons for this is their ability to develop skillsets and, in doing so, impact employability. This kind of competency-based learning, where learners are evaluated by the skills they acquire through the learning process, is becoming more and more necessary as real world talent gaps widen in the corporate landscape. Stay tuned from more on our Critical Skillsets series where we’ll dive into other core skills that simulations help to develop.


If you would like to learn more about simulation-based learning and how we can help you achieve your learning goals, contact us today.