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Sheridan Webb

Keystone Development

Training Design Consultant

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Methods appropriate for senior managers


Shortly, I will designing a workshop based on work I did last year that was aimed at first level supervisors. The workshop has had fantastic feedback, and I've now been asked to design a course that delivers the same messages but to a much more senior team.

Many of the methods that I used in the inital workshop are considered inappropriate for senior managers (post-it note activities, card sorts etc). I want to keep the workshop interactive, so would welcome ideas about how you do this with a senior group. What styles of activity tend to work well with this audience?

Thanks for you help!

Sheridan Webb

8 Responses

  1. Appropriate activities for senior managers

    Hi Sheridan, interesting question. Who, what or where did you recive the view that some activities such as post it notes are not for senior managers?  A few examples of assignments where post it notes and other interactive techniques have been used with board directors and CEO‘s:

    ·          IT development strategy for a global company of 35,000 using post its (with a CEO and board) 
    ·          Identifying how to revalue an investment fund worth billions of pounds using post it’s (with a team of  actuaries)
    ·          Creating new people management processes using post it’s (with 30 top directors) 
    ·          Developing business strategies – using rich pictures and a wargame (with many teams of directors)  
    ·          Team development – using a converted trawler which the team had to operate for two days, this was working with another consultant who owns the vessel
    Regardless of status or title the outcomes of the event provide the focus and once they are clear the best way to create memorable learning points that lead to practical actions can be addressed.  Many senior managers have told me that they are put off attending development events because they are provided with re-hashed materials that are too theoretical and are delivered using boring methods. They are people like everyone else and any group will be made up of individuals with one of four basic question that they want to be addressed for their own personal satisfaction; Why, What, How and What next. If you use these questions when designing a session for anybody they will respond positively and want you back for more.
    Cheers and good luck.  
  2. Training methods for Senior managers


    I’d totally agree with Nick’s comments. Where has the perception come from that the Senior team would find some activities inappropriate?

    From within the Senior team? In which case does that view represent the whole group or just that one peron? And if the latter is that just that person expressing their own parameters of comfortableness?

    If its from outside of the Senior team – again where has the perception come from?

    I think there is a consultative exercise needed here with the senior managers – to assertain what their thoughts or fears are. what has been their previous experience? Have they had training that was inappropriate?

    Remember some of the best learning comes from when we are being child like (intuitive, inquisitive, without fear or preconception) but not when we are being childish!

    Any training activity needs to at all times show it adds value, is relavant and linked to the learning outcome.

    Having worked with a variety of Senior managers from VP to CEO to MD’s all have welcomed the interactive approach.

    For those that may have reservations, you need to discuss their concerns, develop their trust and establish your credibility as a trainer / faciliator who will add value and wont embarress or waste their time.

    I’ve often found a great way of attaining engagement and interactivty, with no danger of embarrassment is that of Rich Picturing.

    If you’d like more information on tihs or any of our other approaches to interactive training for Senior managers just drop me a line.








  3. Activities for senior managers


    I’m a great believer that you can use most methods with most audiences. I understand that senior managers may have been exposed to different conditioning about what is acceptable, but sometimes, if done well, it is good to be a bit counter-cultural to challenge their perceptions and stretch their repertoire of learning experiences. For me this is about doing what you think is best and then working out how to make it work best for that audience. Often with senior managers it is about tone, pitch, clear relevance to business outcomes and their role, and the sure-footed confidence that you have that in turn gives them confidence to just get on and do it.


  4. Snr Managers

    Hello Lee

    Interesting reply!  Could you possible tell us more about ‘Rich Picturing’ … ?

    Thank you


  5. What subjects/messages?
    Hi Sheriden

    Most comments seemed to have focused on the method of training you should use and I do agree that senior management training should be no different to anyone else.
    However what subjects / messages are you looking to cover in your session, so I can send you some specific ideas.



  6. More about Rich picturing


    Rich picturing is possibly known by many people in many different ways. I saw a fantastic version of it used at Ripley castle with a group of trainers hosted by Shirley Gaston. The version I have been using for over ten years was developed by Professor Richard Whip, who sadly died a few years ago. I was very lucky to have a session with him in London as he described the many psychological benefits of getting people to use pictures to analyse their situation.
    The most regular deployment involves people drawing their ideal future situation (not a wish list but things that could realistically happen over a given time period, usually a year. Then they craw their current situation and finally they draw the journey between current and future showing how they overcame obstacles and identified things that helped them.
    It is a great way of getting people to show their real feelings in a situation without concern as the picture is a group effort. I have used pictures as part of change programmes, OD projects and management development courses.
    One example of what come through was a group of managers who had gone through a period of cut backs and survived redundancy in their department. They drew a massive whirlwind funnel with all of them being sucked up and around, not knowing when it was going to stop or how they would end up. This was a very powerful image and helped the training team to tailor the course to meet their needs for clarity and confidence in new processes. 
    If you want a "how to kit" send me your e-mail via the TZ system. 
  7. You could involve them in the design process….

    Hi Sheridan,

    One way to deal with your anxiety and that of anybody else in the organisation, would be to involve your client group (or one or two of them) in the design of your workshop. If you explained what you would like to do, building on your success, and then invited them to add their ideas and reactions, you would quickly have a good design that everybody would look forward to, including you. If there were problems, you could deal with them.

    I have done this with a senior group. They suggested we start with something much more risky than I would have suggested, namely with each of them drawing a picture of their worlds. When the described their pictures to each other, they learned very significant things about each other that they had not known before. These helped them understand and appreciate each other. This team had worked together closely for several years!

    You have nothing to lose by asking. I am sure they would appreciate it.

    Best wishes,


  8. Thanks for ideas so far…

    Thanks to all who have contributed so far. You have given some things to think about.

    In response to earlier questions about where this perception has come from, it has come from the client. They are using internal trainers to deliver who may be junior to those attending, so they don’t want to run the risk of the event being PERCIEVED as being a junior level event.

    Keep the great ideas coming, and thanks again!



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Sheridan Webb

Training Design Consultant

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