Companies seek out individuals with strong interpersonal skills because it demonstrates an ability to facilitate communication and interaction with their co-workers. This becomes even more important when that individual is a supervisor or project manager. In a recent survey conducted by Graduate Opportunities of 350 employers show that the “most common quality nominated by employers was interpersonal/communication skills, with nearly 75 per cent of employers rating this as one of their most important selection criteria."
Managers develop good interpersonal skills over a lifetime but are also able to sharpen them through the use of games and exercises. The games make learning and improving interpersonal skills more enjoyable and thought provoking. The more an individual enjoys and actively participates in training the more likely they will retain the lesson. According to a statistical analysis of more than two million workplace observations completed by the LRN Corporation, when an employee feels engaged they will put in a great deal of extra effort and try to inspire others through comments and actions. The games allow participants to develop skills to improve their ability to work as part of a group and with others on an individual basis.
Breaking the Ice Games
The instructor frequently begins with an introductory ice breaker game that gets the group warmed up. This game gets everyone in the practice of engaging each other and eliminates any nervousness that may exist. The instructor starts with a question that everyone can easily answer and hopefully have some fun with. Topics range from the biggest success an individual has had to the hardest lesson learned as a manager. The instructor encourages the class to ask questions to get to know each other better. The exercise develops camaraderie and builds confidence as the individual reflect on their success.
Creative Thinking Games
Creativity thinking games are used to help develop a manager’s creativity and ability to think on their feet. The game begins when the instructor selects on item out of a box and passes the remaining items around to the other training participants. The instructor then uses 30 seconds to create a story regarding their item. When the instructor’s time is up the next participant must continue the instructor’s story. This continues until everyone in the room has a turn. Once that story is over the next participant begins a story about their object and the game continues. Each person’s story has to make sense and have a connection to the previous part of the story. This exercise is especially useful for managers that are responsible for presentations in front of a large group and frequently have to speak in public.
Role Playing Games
One of the most widely used games in teaching interpersonal skills involves the use of role playing scenarios to encourage participants to practice real life situations in a low pressure environment. The managers are split up into teams where each member plays a role acting out a personnel issue. The non-participating members are directed to point out what was done well and discuss any opportunities for improvement. The instructor helps shape the conversation by introducing new concepts or ideas. The benefit of the game is to expose the managers to a situation in a training environment so they have the confidence to negotiate and communicate when they are faced with a similar issue in the field.