#15 How to use participants to provide the practice field for observers


Client Enquiry:

We are reviewing experiential activities that help a leader learn how to build a team, not a team building game for an existing team or group. We want to get something for a class of leaders to experience building the team best practices.  Any ideas?

RSVP Design Response

There are many management and leadership skills required in building highly effective teams, and each organisation needs to be able to articulate which are most important to them, then build a learning programme that will develop these specific skills. Having a selection of experiential learning tools that can provide a series of versatile practice fields can help - take Simbols for example.


Simbols can be used to:

  1. Build Communication Skills - Participants learn and rehearse how to encourage people to contribute in a team, use different communication patterns to avoid ambiguity and enhance understanding, acknowledge and respect different communications styles, develop effective communication systems


  1. Build Project Management Skills - Participants learn and rehearse how to develop and implement many of the elements for successful project management including setting clear goals and quality standards, effectively allocating resources (including time management), developing clearly expressed and agreed strategies, creating structured plans, but also applying process improvement, creating reliable information management processes, and effectively delegating individual responsibilities


  1. Build Leadership Skills - Using the Team Simbols version, participants learn and rehearse how to create a vision and strategy, motivate & empower sub teams, and deliver an integrated solution. Participants can provide feedback to the leader(s) on their performance during the activity.


  1. Building Coaching & Feedback Skills - Split the group into observers and participants. providing a simple set of observation tasks and questions. Observers learn and rehearse non-judgmental observation and feedback skills, discriminating between effective and ineffective behaviour, and coaching for improved performance.

Tip #15

The focus when using an activity is usually on the experience of those working with the activity materials - but if the skills to be developed include observation, feedback and coaching skills, perhaps it better to focus the development on observers rather than participants. In this case split the group into half, with some given specific observer roles and the rest carrying out the activity as normal, then switch roles to give each group the opportunity to observe performance.

This will involve some simple pre-work in creating observation checklists, and probably some coaching of observers, before, during and after the activity, but will provide great practice opportunities for providing team and individual feedback.

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