50 Activities for Coaching & Mentoring

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These activities provide stimulating exercises, realistic case studies, and creative role-plays that will enable your managers and supervisors to sharpen their skills in several key coaching roles - as team leader, facilitator, counselor, and director. Each fully reproducible activity is organized in a user-friendly format with detailed trainer's notes, clear objectives, and suggested variations for customizing the activity to meet your group's needs. Training Objectives: Introduce mentoring concepts and peer guidance techniques; Develop skills to express performance improvement goals clearly; Create open, trusting relationships; Refine managers' skills in providing constructive feedback. Training Methods: Team games; Group discussions; Icebreakers; Role-plays; Questionnaires and written exercises. Time Guidelines: 34 activities take 1 hour or less; 6 activities take between 1 and 2 hours

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Activity 1 Rock, Paper, Scissors

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Activity 1

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Identify between 12 and 18 participants to take part in the activity. Remaining participants, if any, are to record their observations for later discussion.

Divide participants into two teams.

Have each team elect or appoint a player.

Have each team elect or appoint a scorekeeper.

Have each team select a name for the team.

Step 2: Distribute Handout 1.1.

Notes:

Give each participant, including the players, a copy of Handout 1.1. Explain the purpose of the activity: to accumulate as high a score as possible for the team. Explain the rules:

The activity is based on the old game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

When meeting, players will face each other and maintain eye contact as they will each raise and lower one fist three times in a “table pounding” motion.

On the count of 3, they will each use their hand to represent one of the following:

Rock = closed fist

Paper = open hand

Scissors = V formed with index and middle fingers

 

Activity 2 Strike Three, You’re Out

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2

Strike Three, You’re Out

Description

This activity illustrates the necessity of complete communication between the coach and the team or individual. It also demonstrates how an ineffective coach can cause people to become frustrated, fearful, resentful, and generally nonproductive.

Objectives

By the end of this activity, participants will be able to

describe the need for complete, honest, and open communication to meet competition; experience the frustration of the worker who is expected to perform to standards that are either unknown or vague; appreciate team effort; and describe the attributes of an effective coach.

Skill Areas

Analyzing performance problems

Collaboration

Communication/Nonverbal communication

Goal setting

Role of the coach

Setting expectations

Participants

Number:

Type:

Any

Any

Time

20 to 40 minutes

Resources

Exercise 2.1 for the coaches

One copy of Exercise 2.1 for each team

Balloons in a variety of colors (enough for 12 balloons per participant)

Straight pins (or any sharp object)

 

Activity 3 Card Exchange

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Activity 3

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Prepare the activity.

Notes:

Before the session in which you use this activity, find out how many participants have business cards with them.

Each participant will need the same number of cards as there are group members.

Cut index cards to use as business cards for those participants who need them.

Step 2: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Explain that the goal is to learn as many different coaching roles as possible and to network with as many other participants as possible.

Note: Depending on the size of the group, you may wish to divide into smaller groups.

Step 3: Prepare the cards.

Notes:

Distribute blank cards to those who do not have business cards. Have them write their names and any other pertinent information on one side of the card.

Each participant is asked to select the role of a coach/mentor that they think is most important and write it on the back of their business cards/index cards.

Each participant should complete the same number of cards as there are group members.

 

Activity 4 Who am I?

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Activity 4

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Prepare the activity.

Notes:

Prior to participants arriving, prepare name tags with names of famous people who would be known to participants.

Names can be of those who are either living or dead, real or fictional, all of the same type, or mixed.

Some examples:

John Wayne

Madonna

George Bush

Moses

Tom Sawyer

Jimmy Stewart

Cher

Bill Clinton

Jesus

Huck Finn

Another option is to prepare name tags in pairs so that the activity has two steps:

1. Find out who you are.

2. Find the person who goes with you.

For example:

Salt/Pepper

Sugar/Cream

George/Gracie

Abbott/Costello

Bush/Cheney

Bill/Hillary

Step 2: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Review the objectives.

Explain to participants that the greater number of people they interact with, the better their chances of being successful.

Step 3: Put a name tag on the back of each participant to prevent the individual from seeing it.

Notes:

One way to do this is to give each participant a name tag and have the group stand in two circles—one within the other.

 

Activity 5 Attitudes or Attributes?

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Activity 5

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Ask participants to define the terms “attitude” and “attribute.”

Discuss the differences between attitudes and attributes.

Step 2: Distribute one copy of Exercise 5.1 to each participant.

Notes:

Review the directions with the group and allow 5 to 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

Step 3: Discuss the importance of a coach’s attitude.

Notes:

Ask participants to share the results of their questionnaires. Discuss specific attitudes and their importance. Record pertinent comments on the flipchart.

Questions you might ask:

What role do you think attitudes play in a coach’s success?

Think of someone you consider to be a successful coach. What attitudes does he/she have?

Which attitudes do you think are most important? Why?

What can you do if you have a “low” attitude score?

How can you use the results of this questionnaire on the job?

Step 4: Distribute one copy of Exercise 5.2 to each participant.

Notes:

Review the directions with the group and allow 5 to 10 minutes to complete the worksheet.

 

Activity 6 Picture That

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Activity 6

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Explain that in addition to writing their name on the tent card, participants should draw a representative picture of a coaching skill they currently possess

(or a coaching skill that they need and want to acquire as a result of this training). Ask that they use the broad tip markers and prepare to interpret their artwork.

Step 2: Exchange information.

Notes:

Ask participants to share introductory information (if you are using this activity as an icebreaker) along with the skill they have depicted on the tent card. If this is the first opportunity to discuss coaching skills, the skills can be compiled on a chart as the target for training. This activity can be used to remind the trainer of the participant expectations. This is also a good indicator of the current skill level so that training can be adapted to meet the needs of the audience.

Step 3: Lead a discussion as a review of this activity.

Notes:

Questions you might ask:

 

Activity 7 How do you rate?

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Activity 7

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Review the objectives.

Step 2: Participants identify their greatest strengths and weaknesses.

Notes:

Have participants write their greatest strength on the outside of their tent cards.

Have participants write their greatest weaknesses on the inside of their tent cards.

Step 3: Participants find a partner.

Notes:

Have participants walk around the room until they find a participant(s) who identified as a strength something they consider to be a weakness.

Have them write down the name(s) of the person(s) whose strengths correspond with their weaknesses.

Step 4: Set up small groups.

Notes:

Ask each participant to name one or two people who could be his/her partner.

Use this time to identify participants who have “matching” strengths and weaknesses.

Have participants form small groups in which people who have strengths meet with people who have the “matching” weaknesses.

In most cases, you will have three or more people in the group. In rare instances, you might find two people who “match” exactly.

 

Activity 8 Focus on Coaching Skills

PDF

Activity 8

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Review the objectives.

Explain that participants will be working in small groups.

Step 2: Divide the group.

Notes:

Set up small groups of three to seven participants.

Step 3: Distribute one copy of Exercise 8.1 to each participant.

Notes:

Review the exercise and answer any questions participants have.

Step 4: Conduct the activity.

Notes:

Have participants fill in the top row of Exercise 8.1 with information about themselves.

Have participants share with other people in their group what they have filled in on their exercise. Participants should fill in their exercises with information from other participants.

As they fill in the information, they should discuss each person’s responses.

Allow groups 30 minutes to discuss the questions and complete the exercise.

Step 5: Review the activity.

Notes:

Reassemble the group.

Discuss the exercise by reviewing the questions.

Give participants the opportunity to find others in the larger group who share similar strengths and weaknesses.

 

Activity 9 String Toss

PDF

Activity 9

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Ask the participants to stand and form a circle as a group. Explain that they will take turns calling out a coaching skill while holding the end of the string and tossing the ball to someone in the circle.

Step 2: Explain the activity.

Notes:

This activity calls for spontaneous response prompted by catching the ball of string. Before one can toss it to another, he/she must recall or think of an essential coaching skill.

Step 3: Conduct the activity.

Notes:

Give the ball to one of the participants and make sure he/she holds the end of the string while tossing the ball and calling out a skill. Listen for someone to call out “teamwork” or “team leadership” or some skill that indicates the teaming concept. When skills have been exhausted, draw the participants’ attention to the web of string that has formed, connecting each person with the others.

Step 4: Lead a discussion.

Notes:

Questions you might ask:

When you observe the web that has resulted, what comes to mind?

 

Activity 10 Let’s Have a BEER

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Activity 10

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Ask for two volunteers for a role play. Describe the “situation” by addressing the volunteer you select to play the role of a supervisor (be sure this person can role play in front of a group):

You supervise a work team here at (organization). One of your best workers is “X” (the other volunteer). “X” is always on time, doesn’t complain, and does acceptable work.

This morning, though, one of the other members of your team took you aside and voiced a complaint—“X” has a bad habit of picking his/her nose, often in front of customers. It’s gotten to the point that you need to confront “X” about this problem.

Direct the volunteer “supervisor” to face “X” and confront him/her. Allow 2 to 3 minutes, then thank both volunteers, asking the group to show special appreciation for the effort given by the “supervisor.”

Step 2: Discuss the role play.

Notes:

Ask the participants to list all the effective things that the supervisor did. The list will probably include:

 

Activity 11 Wanna BET?

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Activity 12 Making a Sandwich

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Activity 12

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Distribute Exercise 12.1.

Notes:

Introduce the purpose of this exercise: to describe an assignment or a task in a step-by-step sequence.

Explain the Steps and Key Ideas of the exercise.

Steps of a task are just that—the actions necessary to complete a task. Key

Ideas include the “why” of a step (important for adults!), safety tips, shortcuts, optional steps—any information that helps the learner.

Step 2: Provide an example.

Notes:

Illustrate the use of the Step/Key Ideas outline with an example (such as starting a car, shaving, frying an egg, etc.). Have participants list steps and offer their ideas for the Key Ideas column. Spend only two or three minutes doing this.

Step 3: Lead participants in the exercise.

Notes:

Instruct participants to explain the making of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich using the outline. Allow about seven to eight minutes. As participants are writing, circulate through the room, selecting one or two of the participants’ work to demonstrate. (Be sure to select examples that will illustrate the need to be clear, avoid assumptions, keep steps in sequence, and so forth.)

 

Activity 13 Chair Walking

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Activity 13

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Explain that this activity illustrates the need to have a trusting relationship in the workplace.

Through this activity, you can demonstrate the need for trust in the coach/ employee relationship, the advantage of networking, and the impact of nonverbal communication.

Step 2: Explain the activity.

Notes:

After dividing the larger group into small teams of five to six, ask each team to position straight back chairs in a line so that the sides are touching (as closely as possible) and all chair fronts are facing in the same direction.

(Chairs with rollers on the legs will not work. The best choice of chairs are those with flat bottoms—padded or not—with straight, sturdy legs and straight backs.)

Each person on the team will walk, eyes closed or blindfolded, on top of the chair seats with the guidance of team members. Team members will want to stand alongside the chairs to give physical aid and reassurance to the

 

Activity 14 Positive Feedback

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Activity 15 Goal Ladder

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Activity 15

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

Explain that this activity is an opportunity to think about goals—both longand short-term—for several separate areas of each participant’s life. The exercise will illustrate a technique that can be used repeatedly to update and track both personal and professional goals. The process is easily adapted to the workplace for setting and tracking quarterly, semi-annual, and annual goals. It is also a method that has been used effectively for long-range planning.

Step 2: Explain the activity.

Notes:

Distribute Exercise 15.1 to each participant. After defining each area, assure the participants that

there will be sufficient time allowed to complete the exercise; they will not be required to share the goals with anyone; and even though some areas are foreign (in that they have never given thought or planning to that aspect of their life), they should attempt to set a goal for each division. Encourage them to dream, to envision, and to have fun with this exercise.

 

Activity 16 Construction

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Activity 16

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

This activity is more effective if the purpose is not disclosed at the outset.

Simply inform the participants that they will divide into teams of five to six members and be given a construction project to complete within the sevenminute time limit. First, they are to select a team coach.

Step 2: Brief the coaches and distribute materials.

Notes:

Take the coaches out of the room. Give each coach a black-and-white picture of an object that can be built from this particular set of building blocks or

Tinkertoys.

Instruct them to lead their team in completing the task⎯building the object to the specification shown in the picture in the seven-minute time limit. They may share the name of the object only. They can give verbal instructions to the team, but they are not allowed to touch the building pieces or show the picture to the team.

Step 3: Brief the teams.

Notes:

Explain that their task is to construct the project, according to specification, in the seven-minute time limit. (You may want to inject the competitive component at this point. Teams enjoy the pressure of working to “beat an opponent.” You may also choose to award prizes to the winners. This is completely optional. Either way, the purpose is not affected.)

 

Activity 17 Origami

PDF

Activity 17

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

This activity is more effective if the purpose is not disclosed at the outset.

Simply inform the participants that they will divide into teams of five to six members and be given a construction project to complete within the sevenminute time limit. First, they are to select a team coach.

Step 2: Brief the coaches and distribute materials.

Notes:

Take the coaches out of the room, and give each of them a piece of folding paper and the picture of the object (which is the instruction information) that their team is to fold.

Give them time to fold the object once or twice. Most people are not generally familiar with the art of paper folding, and this practice time gives them a chance to figure out how they will verbally communicate the instructions to the team.

Instruct them to lead their team in completing the task⎯folding the object to the specification shown in the picture in the seven-minute time limit. They may share the name of the object only. They can give verbal instructions to the team, but they are not allowed to touch anyone’s paper, show the team the picture, or demonstrate the folding.

 

Activity 18 Card Houses

PDF

Activity 18

50 Activities for Coaching/Mentoring

Method

Step 1: Introduce the activity.

Notes:

This activity is more effective if the purpose is not disclosed at the outset.

Simply inform the participants that they will divide into teams of five to six members and be given a construction project to complete within a fiveminute time limit. First, they are to select a team coach.

Step 2: Brief the coaches and distribute materials.

Notes:

Take the coaches out of the room. Give them a package of 3 x 5 index cards, a box of paper clips, and a 12-inch piece of tape. Instruct that they are to lead their team to the successful production of a card house in the time limit allowed. The house is to be constructed from their own imagination.

They should be given a few minutes to make sketches so that you can evaluate the finished product against the design sketch.

Tell them they will give verbal instructions only; they will not be allowed to touch the building materials or show the sketch to the team.

Step 3: Brief the teams.

 

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