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Yesterday I delivered training for a group of managers and directors at a small government agency. During the training I facilitated a learning exercise that forced team members to work as a #team, communicate in writing, and use their leadership and delegation skills to solve a problem.

This isn’t a very difficult activity but it amazes me how quickly people begin to check out when they don’t reach a solution. The set-up is designed to mirror an organizational hierarchy. The senior leader is sitting at the top  and holds ALL of the information necessary to solve the problem. A manager is seated in the middle and holds some of the information needed to solve the problem. The back row is filled by ‘staff’ who have very little information, don’t know what to do with the information they have and have no way of knowing the goal of the activity or what success looks like.

As this activity unfolds it is interesting to notice the dynamics that play out among the team members. Information stops flowing, the middle managers gets overwhelmed, staff gets frustrated and the senior leader is out of the loop.

Employee engagement is a big buzz word in many organizations these days, and leaders have to create an environment where staff feels engaged, connected, and people are willing to give their best in order to help the team or organization reach its goals.

In part two of this post I’ll show how the “staff” on the front line of this exercise was impacted as their team worked hard to solve a problem but didn’t work together to solve it!