Managing the Workforce™ | Managing People Training Activity

Mirrors reality when seemingly simple things go wrong. Reveals fundamentals for building an effective workforce.

Learning Objectives

  • highlights the common problems that result from lax management
  • stresses the need for effective delegation with clearly understood instructions, review points and deadlines
  • highlights the need for regular monitoring and review
  • identifies the roles of manager and supervisor
  • identifies the ways to create an informed, motivated, confident work team of whom you have high expectations

Repeat Use Licence

This Northgate training activity comes with a licence for repeat use with up to 12 participants per training session within your organisation. Please ask for a discount for use with larger groups.

  • Participants

    12 (split into three teams)

  • Timing

    1.25 hours + debrief

  • Uses a computer?

    Not required

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The Activity

Participants work in three teams representing Managers, Supervisors and Production Staff of a toy company. Management receive a request for samples to be made, so they must brief the Supervisors and the Supervisors in turn must brief Production Staff (who are already engaged on another job).

The lines of communication are short, the task simple, the deadline adequate – and yet the problems multiply exponentially and all too soon the deadline comes and goes – and no samples appear! What went wrong, how similar is this to what happens at work? What procedures could help to improve things and ensure a much more positive outcome?

Trainer's Role

  • Divide the participants into three teams, Managers, Supervisors and Production Staff, as per instructions in the Trainer’s Notes.
  • Briefly explain that teams represent departments of an organisation and will shortly be given details of a task.
  • Issue Team Briefs. Explain the activity lasts just one hour and draw the group’s attention to the means of communication available between the three teams.
  • Also issue Production Resources as per instructions in the Trainer’s Notes.
  • Observe what happens (but don't get involved). Use the Trainer’s Assessment Checklist to help gauge workforce performance. There are a lot of areas to consider!
  • At the end lead a debrief: did the workforce achieve their objective (most do not)? What did they do well? What let them down? How could they have done better? What useful lessons can they take back to the workplace? Lots of useful issues to discuss - full details are provided in the Trainer's Notes.

Pack Contents

  • Trainer’s Notes
  • Managers' Briefs
  • Supervisors' Briefs
  • Production Staff's Briefs
  • Memo Forms
  • Action Plan
  • Trainer Assessment - Checklist
  • PDF Files for reprinting (Memo Forms, Trainer Assessment Checklist, Action Plan)
  • Resources: scissors, A4 card, colour pens, pencils, rulers, sticky tape

Northgate Activities always add a further dimension to enhance the learning experience. In 'Managing the Workforce' there is a safe environment 'to bring out the leader in you'. It also shows how communication is essential and that teams need to step back to see the bigger picture. And the outcome may not be what the group expected!

Peter Mistretta, Learning and Development Manager, Center Parcs

I used 'Managing the Workforce' last week with middle managers in a shoe factory. The result was frankly unbelievable. You mention in the Trainer's Notes that the task is simple but the managers do not succeed - and this was the case. The Production Staff produced some excellent dice but failed to finish even one complete sample. There was complete breakdown in communication between the Managers and Supervisors and between Supervisors and the Production Team. The discussion that followed was quite exceptional - and the insight, learning and feedback was so powerful. I was amazed. Instead of feeling any sense of failure the group recognised that this was exactly what happened in reality. But, importantly, during this activity they could appreciate the role and feeling of their supervisors and, above all, their production staff. I have always had great debriefs and learning from Northgate exercises but this one produced astounding results. I congratulate you on a superb simulation.

Peter Chapman, Director, Peter Chapman International

I love all your products! Using the 'Managing the Workforce' training activity in our session on transitioning from a content-contributor to a manager to a leader brought out some great learning points. The participants immersed themselves in the very-real struggle of each role: the managers were making decisions with incomplete information, the supervisors were running around trying to coordinate resources and information, and the production staff wanted to get the job done. Even further, each participant uncovered their own natural tendencies. It was a double-learning in management AND self-awareness.

Songya Kesler, Leadership Consultant & Coach,

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