Sharing Management Wisdom

A Team Building Activity

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Training sessions and team building activities that involve and engage attendees are a challenge when your group meets regularly. Your participants have different levels of knowledge and need. Additionally, they have different numbers of reporting staff members and the professionalism and experience of their reporting employees ranges widely.

Yet, for team building and training, regular meetings ensure the transfer of the training information to the work place.

Regular meetings also ensure that efforts to apply the training are reviewed and shared. They also build a cohesive sense of belonging to a team in the minds of your participants.

Here's a simple team building activity that creates excitement during a regularly scheduled team building and training session. This team building activity allows your participants to share their accumulated knowledge and wisdom with the other participants. During this team building activity, the facilitator steps aside and the participants take center stage with their knowledge and expertise.

With a group of twenty-four, this team building activity will take approximately an hour and a half. So, this team building activity works well as the focus of a team building session or as a part of a day-long or multiple day team building event. This team building activity is appropriate as the main event in a team building session that lasts a couple of hours.

Steps in Sharing Management Wisdom: A Team Building Activity

  1. Divide the meeting participants into groups of four people. For this team building activity, you will want to assign groups based on years of management experience.

    This will allow you to have team members with various years of management experience participating in each group. So, start by asking your participants to raise their hands if they have more than ten years of management experience. Assign each of these participants to their own table.

    If you have more than you need to divide the meeting attendees into groups of four, place the manager with the least experience at the table with the manager who has the most. Then, ask how many participants have five or more years of experience managing people and assign them to the tables of the more experienced managers.

    Finally, ask how many managers have fewer than five years of experience and assign them to the groups with the more experienced managers. This method of assigning participants to groups so that you create various levels of experience within each group is integral to the success of this team building activity.

    Do not use a numbering off method or a self-selection method to organize these groups; your results will suffer from the lack of diversity. Indeed, if you know the attendees, as you assign by levels of experience, avoid putting departmental coworkers in the same group.
  1. Tell the newly formed groups that their assignment is to look back over their work careers and determine the ten most important pieces of wisdom they have learned about managing people.

    I provide the following example from my own accumulated knowledge: Don't ever expect any individual to whole heartedly support and "own" any way of doing things that he or she had no part in creating or developing. At best, you will only obtain "buy in." Use this example or pull an example from your own accumulated wisdom, but do share an example.


  2. Provide the time needed by the participants to think about and jot down ideas before you ask them to share their wisdom with their small group. I find that coming up with ten pieces of knowledge, that group members want to share, generally takes twenty to thirty minutes. You will know when most participants are ready for the next step when the level of noise in the room increases.


  3. Once participants have had a chance to think about their accumulated wisdom, ask them to share them with their small group. My preference is that each person share one at a time. They share their first; then, each person shares their second, and then, their third. Tell the small group members to look for common themes and similarities in the pieces of wisdom shared.


  1. Tell the groups that each person will be asked to share several of their words of wisdom with the whole group upon completion of the small group exercise, if they are comfortable doing so.


  2. Debrief the team building activity by asking the group how they reacted to the words of wisdom, both telling their own and hearing those of coworkers.


  3. Continue to debrief the activity by asking the large group if participants noticed themes in the wisdom shared. When the discussion is finished, ask the participants if they have anything they'd like to add to the discussion before moving on with the rest of the session or ending.

    Variations for Sharing Wisdom: A Team Building Activity

    You can assign non-management or mixed groups to come up with various types of wisdom gleaned through working. An example might be: Come up with the ten most important pieces of wisdom they've learned about how to work effectively with people.

    A second example: Come up with the ten most important factors they've learned about working effectively with their boss, or any boss.

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