Communicating Change To Employees

Question: I need an experiential exercise for a small group of 4-6 leaders to help them understand how to communicate change to employees. The exercise can only take about 15 minutes.

Answer: This game demonstrates the following important aspects of communicating change to employees:

  • Change once it has visited the organisation finds a champion in the organisation - usually the leader.

  • The leader has the task of initiating two or three sub changes simultaneously.

  • To succeed she sets up a pattern of information and performance flow

  • Once the pattern is fixed on she introduces a second sub-change.

  • As long as the stakeholders know the pattern they do not mind sticking to their piece of the change process.

  • The pattern gives the stakeholders the comfort level that they need to complete the change process as it grows to its full size.

The game itself is called group juggling. While it is described here, you will also find it on the page on this website.

Group Juggling

1. You'll need: three small basket balls (this is just indicative of size) per group, and five to six people per group

2. Demonstrate this game with one group. Once you have shown them how to play it, then the other groups can start playing.

3. Instructions for playing this game:

  • Ask the group to stand in a circle

  • Assign one of the group members to be the initiator and keep all the three balls at her feet

  • Tell them that all throws should be underhand ones. The way to be successful in group juggling is to focus on only two things. The first is to remember who threw the ball to you. The second one is to remember whom did you throw the ball to.

  • Tell them at the end of it the group will have all three balls being passed simultaneously and the group will have successfully juggled the three balls. At first this game will seem unachievable, but a trial will change the perception.

  • Also tell them that if they drop the ball or balls during the game then they will have to start playing it from scratch.

  • Ask the initiator to throw one ball to another member of the group. This member then throws to the next person and on it goes until the last person throws to the initiator again.

  • Follow this pattern for a couple of iterations until the group gets used to the pattern of throwing and receiving

  • In the third round after the ball leaves the initiator's hands, gesture her to throw the second ball in the same pattern.

  • Let the group get used to two balls for a couple of rounds.

  • Again gesture to the initiator to include the third ball.

  • By now the group will be so focused on the juggling they will hardly notice the third ball for a couple of seconds. When they do the excitement is so high that they continue the juggling with renewed focus.

  • Of course they will drop the balls a couple of times, but they will get back into the game quite easily and succeed.

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