Training meetings are integral to all businesses, but some of the most common complaints from workers are that the meetings are "boring" and "no fun." Training games can be used to lighten the mood and inject some much-needed humor into the work place. There are four different styles of games that could be used to engage employees and maintain a professional decorum. Variations can (and should) be made to accommodate different environments and needs.
Training meetings are often used for new employees coming into the business. The hardest part of coming into a new work place can be feelings of isolation. An easy way to work through these feelings is to play games that reinforce names and create a sense of unity. A simple game is to have each new employee, and the leader of the meeting, choose a personalized gesture that represents him or her. One by one, players introduce themselves by saying their names and performing their personalized gestures. The leader starts and says her name while preforming her gesture, and then she says another player's name and his corresponding gesture. This person then says his own name and performs his own gesture, and then states a different player's gesture and performs that player's gesture. Game play is passed around in this fashion until someone mixes up a name or gesture or can't think of one in time. That person is "out."
Trust exercises are great for new employees in training, as well as employees going through a retraining process. They help the workers think of themselves as a team rather than individuals. Typically, trust exercises require some kind of physical feat. The most popular of these exercises is the trust fall. An individual stands on a slightly raised platform as his coworkers stand behind him. The coworkers stand in two lines facing each other with their arms bent at the elbows and palms facing up. The employee on the platform should stand with his or her back toward the edge of the platform and arms crossed across the chest. On the count of three (which should be done in unison by everyone), the employee falls into the arms of his coworkers. This can be a dangerous and challenging exercise, and should only be done under the close supervision of someone who really knows how to do this exercise. This is not a suitable exercise for workers wearing business attire (i.e., shirts and ties or skirts and high heels), so it should be performed at a training retreat or other such meeting.
Often, training meetings are used to reinvigorate and refresh employees on an annual or semi-annual basis. Sometimes these employees are stuck in their old ways of thinking. This leads them to provide less innovative solutions for business problems. Creative brainstorming sessions can be used to escape the traps of limited thinking. Instead of focusing on business problems, try playing games which encourage lateral thinking. Pictionary can help unlock the minds of visual thinkers. To play, use a large writing surface (like a white board), pick a category (for example, office supplies) and select a person to draw. The person may draw a subject out of the hat, and she must use only pictures (no gestures or words) to communicate the idea.
Humans naturally have a short attention span. Often, leaving a task and coming back to it ends up being more productive than focusing too hard on one task at a time. Exercise raises heart rate and releases endorphins; at the same time, it uses a different part of the brain than planning or office work. In fact, the mind can work on the problems subconsciously and help a person come back with fresh ideas. Try organizing a three-on-three basketball game, playing ping-pong or taking everyone bowling.