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50 Activities for Developing Management Skills Volume I

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With the 50 Activities for Developing Management Skills titles you will save valuable hours in researching and developing new activities. Your managers will master key skills and gain new insights from these proven, ready-to-use exercises, role-plays, and icebreakers. Volume 1 skills focus on: Interpersonal Relations; Performance Appraisal; Self-Development; Teamwork. Volume 1 activities include: Action Planning; Activity Appraisal; The In-Tray; Real Time Priorities; The Goldfish Bowl.

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1 Action Planning

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1 Action Planning

DESCRIPTION

This is a simple but essential activity for use at the end of a seminar, event, course, or program to encourage participants to apply their learning upon return to their workplace.

SITUATIONS

At the end of the seminar, course, etc.

OBJECTIVES

To remind participants of the learning points of the training event

To encourage the commitment of participants to transfer their learning back to their workplace

To produce an action plan

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

METHOD

A variety of alternative options are possible. These are outlined under

“Method.”

1. Ask the participants to take a few minutes to think about the period of the training event, what happened during this period, what learning points were offered, and which learning aspects had the most significance.

2. When the participants have considered the above, also using any notes or handouts, they should then think about what they intend to do as a result of this learning.

3. These thoughts should then be: a) Made more specific in action terms b) Written down as an Action Plan

 

2 Activity Appraisal

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2 Activity Appraisal

DESCRIPTION

Many of the activities in this collection end with the requirement for an appraisal of the task achievement, the relevant process, or the interpersonal relationships involved. There are, of course, many ways to conduct appraisals; this is one recommended approach that places most of the responsibility for the appraisal process in the hands of the participants themselves.

SITUATIONS

This activity, or a modified version of it, can be used after any activity that requires an assessment of how the task has been performed and that also requires the appraisal to be participant-centered.

OBJECTIVES

To assess performance in terms of task, process, attitude, and/or relationships

To enable the participants to take control of the appraisal rather than to rely on the trainer

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

In many cases, this approach to appraisal should be reserved for events taking place during a training session when the delegates are ready to take responsibility for activities themselves. However, I have successfully used this activity for appraisal after the first activity of a training event during the first afternoon, when it was desirable to encourage the participants to take early responsibility for their activities, for the way they learned, and to a large extent, for what they did and how they did it during the event.

 

3 The Appraisal Interview

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3 The Appraisal Interview

DESCRIPTION

This activity substitutes practical and experiential learning for the more formal input session on interview techniques, and encourages learning by the delegates rather than teaching by the trainer.

SITUATIONS

As it is described here, it is suitable for use on training courses that are concerned with the skills of appraisal interviewing, but the activity can be readily modified for use in training on other interview techniques.

OBJECTIVES

To identify the skills, techniques, and structures involved in job appraisal interviews

To consolidate the learning in the first objective by means of an experiential activity

To provide an interview structure for the delegates to follow during practice interviews

1.

The value of this activity is that the trainer is not required to deliver a considerable input session, with the resultant risk of limited learning.

Instead, the participants themselves extract the information and, in so doing, commit themselves to the method.

 

4 As I See Myself

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4 As I See Myself

DESCRIPTION

The basis of the activity is a set of subjects for the participants to discuss with the intention that they get to know one another better so that mutual assistance might develop with increased knowledge of personal needs.

SITUATIONS

This activity can act as an ice-breaker, particularly in human relations types of events, although it can be used in a variety of other types of courses where it may be necessary to extend the depth of views and feelings among the participants. Rather than ask them to talk about themselves and leave them to their own devices, a series of titles is offered to assist in the process.

OBJECTIVES

To encourage the participants in a group situation to engage in a frank and open exchange of information about themselves

To provide participant information so that mutual assistance might be given in the satisfaction of personal objectives

To provide information that might be developed in later stages of the event

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

As described in the “Method” section, the group should be given the opportunity to develop the activity. The problem for the trainer will be to take a back seat and allow the participants to proceed with the activity as they decide to do so. However, to interfere would be to take the role of discussion leader and to try to guide the discussion along the lines desired by the trainer. These lines, spoken or unspoken, and those of the participants, may not be the same, or the participants may not be ready to allow their feelings to emerge to the extent desired by the trainer. If this were to be the case, the activity would progress only a short distance along the intended path.

 

5 At the End of the Day (1)

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5 At the End of the Day (1)

DESCRIPTION

Many training events need a periodic, even daily, review of how progress is seen by the participants. A relevant questionnaire can help this activity.

SITUATIONS

This is suitable for any training event that requires interim review and for which any subsequent modification can be made based on feedback.

OBJECTIVES

To give participants the opportunity to review and reflect on the training material of the day

To give participants time and guidelines for considering their views about the course and learning process

To preface a discussion about learning process

To give the trainer feedback about the learning process so that modifications might be made to the training if necessary

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

As with all interim validation assessments, there may be risk for the participants when feedback is provided by fellow participants. There can also be risk for the trainer who may receive feedback that is unwelcome and difficult to incorporate or resolve.

All interim assessments have a core reasoning that if the feedback shows that all is not well, something can/will be done. If this is not the intention or if it is not structurally possible to change, the process of assessment should not be initiated.

 

6 At the End of the Day (2)

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6 At the End of the Day (2)

DESCRIPTION

This activity is very similar to Activity 5, but can be performed completely at the end of a training day.

SITUATIONS

This is suitable for any training event that requires interim review and for which any subsequent modification can be made based on feedback. It is also helpful to trainers and participants if it is included at the end of a full day of training.

OBJECTIVES

To give participants the opportunity to review and reflect on the training material of the day

To give participants time and guidelines for considering their views about the course and learning progress

To preface a discussion about the learning progress

To give the trainer feedback about the learning progress so that modifications can be made to the training if necessary

To provide a time during the training day separate from the concentrated learning/training that has been taking place

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

As with all interim validation assessments, there may be risk for the participants when feedback is provided by fellow participants. There can also be risk for the trainer who may receive feedback that is unwelcome and difficult to incorporate or resolve.

 

7 At the End of the Day (3)

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8 The Bad Manager

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8 The Bad Manager

DESCRIPTION

This activity is usually a trainer-led identification and discussion of those aspects of management that are seen by the participants to signify bad management, using actual situations rather than a theoretical model of management.

SITUATIONS

This activity is very useful as a bridging exercise in training events that are concerned with the skills of communication, interpersonal attitudes, or management/supervision techniques. It is best used when the earlier stages of introduction and settling-in have been performed, but before the major activity of the course is introduced.

OBJECTIVES

To enable the participants, through discussion of elements of management, to recognize the effective profile of management

To identify the need for effective interactive skills necessary for efficient management

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

METHOD

This activity should present no major problems of operation and it will be a rare occurrence if the participants are not able or do not wish to enter into the spirit of the activity.

 

9 The Creeping Death

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9 The Creeping Death

DESCRIPTION

This is a simple activity in which the course participants introduce themselves in a variety of ways.

SITUATIONS

This is useful at the start of any course where the participants do not know each other, or know each other only minimally. Other approaches are possible when the course participants know each other well and are wellknown to the trainer, and more so when, although the participants are reasonably intimate, the trainer is the stranger.

OBJECTIVES

A number of objectives are possible within an activity of this nature:

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

To encourage group development by starting the members talking within the group

To give each member some indication of the job, interests, etc., of the other members of the group

To start to overcome the concerns of some members by giving them the opportunity to start talking

To start the process of awareness between the group members, and/or the trainer and the group members

To “break the ice”

The trainer has a number of options relating to the type of information required from the participants, but above anything else, consideration must be given to the question of what type of introduction is required or valuable.

 

10 Delegation

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10 Delegation

DESCRIPTION

This is an observed role play activity involving an interview between a manager, who is delegating a task, and a subordinate.

SITUATIONS

This is appropriate for any training event in which delegation becomes an important topic. Such programs would include those dealing with staff management and also time management.

OBJECTIVES

To give participants practice in the skills of delegating

To receive feedback about a practical experience in delegating

To give practice in observing processes

To give practice in giving process feedback

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

This activity should follow some form of background on the skills of delegating when it is necessary to give the participants the opportunity to practice and consequently consolidate the training they have received. It can similarly be used as an activity to reinforce listening, observing, and appraising.

In addition to the activity itself, it is necessary to have another activity or task fact sheet, the purpose of which is to be delegated in detail. Use either a hypothetical activity or a typical, actual delegation task from within the organization.

 

11 End-of-Course Feelings Review

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11 End-of-Course Feelings Review

DESCRIPTION

The format and content of a course review depends on the nature of the course itself. The variation in this case is used principally in human relations training, particularly where there has been an emphasis on feelings rather than on knowledge or opinions. The instrument continues this emphasis.

SITUATIONS

This is useful at the end of a human relations/interpersonal skills type of course when it is desirable/necessary to obtain a written review.

OBJECTIVES

To encourage among the participants serious consideration of what occurred during the event

To have the participants commit themselves to what they thought about the training value

To start the process of having the participants consider what they are going to do as a result of the learning

To give the trainer objective feedback about the way the event has been received

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

METHOD

No particular comments necessary

1. Distribute Handout 11.1.

2. Ask for complete honesty and comprehensive comments.

 

12 End-of-Course Review

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12 End-of-Course Review

DESCRIPTION

There are innumerable varieties of end-of-course review sheets; their actual format and content depend on the nature of the training. The document described here is one format that I have found not only to be valuable in a number of situations, but also rises above the level of the common accusation of “happiness sheet.”

SITUATIONS

Use at the end of any learning event for which immediate validation feedback is required.

OBJECTIVES

To encourage among the participants serious consideration of what occurred during the event

To have the participants commit themselves to what they thought about the training value

To start the process of having the participants consider what they are going to do as a result of the learning

To give the trainer objective feedback about the way the event has been received

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

METHOD

The main decision to make concerning validation sheets is whether the rating scale should have an odd or an even number of boxes for marking. If there is an odd number, usually 5 or 7, there is the danger that too many markings will be entered in the “safe,” or “average,” or “neutral” middle box rather than positively choosing “good” or “bad.” If, however, there is no middle box, some participants may say that they cannot score the item because it made little impact on them and they would have scored it in a middle box. My own experience and preference has always been toward the even number of boxes, usually 6.

 

13 The Goldfish Bowl

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13 The Goldfish Bowl

DESCRIPTION

This is a technique rather than an activity, but it is included here because it involves activity and is based around activity. Simply stated, it is the use of peer observers during an activity performed by the remainder of the group, with specific feedback in mind.

SITUATIONS

The activity can be used for any event that requires group participation, with or without leadership, and that benefits from feedback of the task and interactive performance as a result of peer observation. It is the extension of the use of part of a training group in an observational role.

OBJECTIVES

To enable participants to perform an activity-based task

To enable participants to observe task or activity performers

To enable participants to give and receive appraisal of task and activity performance

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

The important roles are those of the observers who watch particularly the process and behavior of the working group and the individuals within that group. The observers, because they are looking more at the process than at the content, can usefully identify learning points from the activity being observed. Giving positive and non-evaluative feedback on the process to the members of the working group will enable them to identify learning points about the process that they might otherwise miss because of involvement in the activity. This activity may be a practical exercise or a discussion: two activities will be needed, and it will help the process if the two activities are related or linked in some way.

 

14 Goodbye

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14 Goodbye

DESCRIPTION

This activity is a simple way to end the learning event on a positive, practical note.

SITUATIONS

Use it at the end of any learning events.

OBJECTIVES

To ensure that the event ends in a positive, practical manner

TRAINER

GUIDANCE

METHOD

For Step 2 in the “Method” section below, it will be necessary to check that all the participants are willing to disclose their statements. Do not force anyone to do so unwillingly.

1. Invite all the participants to write on a sheet of paper where they hope they will be and where they think they will be in 1, 5, and 10 years’ time.

(“Where” means state of mind, job, position, mental attitude, level of happiness, or any other definition.)

2. When all the participants have written these down, invite them to read their statements to the remainder of the group. (As mentioned above, it is essential at this stage that any disclosure must be voluntary.)

3. End the course.

TIMING

MATERIALS

REQUIRED

This activity will take about 15 minutes, depending on the number of participants and any absence of discussion following the disclosure of

 

15 Group Interim Course Review

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15 Group Interim Course Review

DESCRIPTION

It is valuable during many events, if a regular review system has not been installed (see End of Day reviews), to have a method of discovering the participants’ attitudes about what is happening in the course. This is one of four simple activities that summarizes the basic approaches to “Interim

Reviews,” course reviews that are held about halfway through the event so that there is time to take remedial action if this is found to be necessary (see also Activities 23, 29, and 32).

SITUATIONS

Use about midway in any training course where it is desirable to know how the training is being received and/or there is intention to make modifications and take remedial action if necessary.

OBJECTIVES

To give the participants the opportunity to review and reflect on the training and learning up to that stage

To give participants time and guidelines to consider their views about the course and learning process

To preface a discussion about the training process

To give the trainer feedback about the training process so that modifications might be made to the training

 

16 Group Role Analysis

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16 Group Role Analysis

DESCRIPTION

The format of this activity is one of group role analysis and identification.

Through discussion, the strengths and weaknesses of the groups are revealed, and the opportunities available to them identified and linked to the existing and potential threats to their development.

SITUATIONS

This activity is one that is suitable (1) for a group or groups of individuals who are either part of an existing team, a developing team, or even an embryonic team, and (2) for a group at a course during which they go from being unfamiliar participants to a cohesive group or even a team. It is probably most appropriately considered as a bridging activity rather than an introductory activity, since more value appears to result when the people involved have started to settle down as a group rather than in the very early stages of group development when candidate statements are less likely to emerge.

OBJECTIVES

To identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of and to the individuals of the group and also the group itself

 

17 Hotel Negotiation

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17 Hotel Negotiation

DESCRIPTION

The activity is a case study to be used in a negotiation or influencing skills training event or a negotiation activity to be used in a human relations training course where one-to-one behaviors are to be practiced. It involved the negotiation between an employment agency manager and the manager of a local hotel for a two-day seminar provision.

SITUATIONS

Because it is a negotiation activity, the obvious place for its use is on a negotiation training course, or one concerned with influencing skills.

However, during such training courses as those concerned with behavior or interpersonal skills, it is often necessary to provide a case study for practice in one-to-one team interactions; this case study can be used for these purposes.

OBJECTIVES

To offer the occasion for the practice of newly learned skills in negotiating

To assist the awareness of financial constraints and demands in commerce and industry

To provide a vehicle for the practice of interpersonal and interactive skills in one-to-one or group negotiations

 

18 How Do We Tell the Trainers?

PDF

18 How Do We Tell the Trainers?

DESCRIPTION

This activity involves the group of participants initially as individuals making individual decisions. The entire group then makes a consensus decision about what action should be taken in a simulated situation.

SITUATIONS

The activity can be used for a variety of courses, at different times during an event, whether the group is new, developing, or considers itself a mature group, but particularly when it is necessary to demonstrate to the participants the difficulties they will encounter in groups at whatever stage.

OBJECTIVES

To demonstrate the influence of individual pre-considered views on subsequent group activity

To enable the participants to practice skills of behavior relevant to decision-making meetings

To consider the value of leader controlled or leaderless groups for reaching decisions

To enable the participants to practice presentation of personal views and the resolution of conflict that might arise because of individually held views

 

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