7 Fun and Engaging Change Management Exercises

The widely-accepted theory of change is that we all have a natural human tendency to resist it. But organizations must change in order to thrive in an always changing market. So how do we deal with change in a productive and non-threatening way?

 

From Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change to “Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, there’s plenty of information to create a strategy for the big picture. Stemming from these experts, I’ve put together this list of change management exercises for groups to get the ball rolling.

 

If you don’t have time for games, overcome change with WalkMe.

 

What are change management exercises?

 

Change management exercises are activities that encourage employees to reduce their resistance to change. Typically played at the beginning of a meeting or work retreat, these exercises break the ice to open communication about the upcoming change, anticipate their concerns and understand the benefits of getting on board.

 

7 Fun and Engaging Change Management Activities

 

Below are seven entertaining exercises aimed at helping employees overcome their fear of change and advance the company’s best interests at the same time. Go ahead and try one for yourself before your next big change.

 

1. Cross Your Arms

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

Ask employees to cross their arms. When they are comfortable, ask them to cross their arms the other way. Once they’ve done this, ask them why the second attempt might have left them feeling uncomfortable, even though it’s basically the same action.

 

What’s the point?

 

Steer the conversation towards specific changes being made within your organization. Examine how tricky it is to cross your arms in different positions and equally how tricky it is to cope with change. Show understanding that the necessary changes may be uncomfortable at first.

 

2. The Alien at Dinner

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

Ask employees to imagine themselves as aliens observing a human dinner party. Their task is to point out unusual human social norms and to explain them to the beings on their imaginary planet. Why do they drink poisonous alcohol? Why do they knock their glasses together when celebrating?

 

What’s the point?

 

Encourage your employees to be more open-minded towards changing long-standing methods by The Alien at Dinner. This exercise helps to point out that just because something is accepted, does not mean it is the best or only way of doing something and that doing things the way they’ve always been done is not enough justification for resisting better methods.

 

3. Changing Places

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

Allow employees to sit wherever they want… then have them move to a different seat. Ask them to think about how their perspective changed in moving to the new seat and why. After stretching for a minute, tell them they can now sit wherever they like. Watch which seat they choose.

 

Play the game twice and see if people behave the same way the second time. Start a discussion as to why people may have changed their choice the second time around.

 

What’s the point?

 

Guide the discussion to highlight our innate resistance to change and the benefits of moving away from a comfort zone to the unknown. Take this opportunity to acknowledge the fear of the unknown and share information about the need for upcoming changes.

 

4. The Ups and Downs of Change

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

For this change management activity, you’ll first want to get my free “Ups and Downs of Change” PDF. Fill out the form below to have it sent directly to your email.

 

 

Using this list of change-related words, read aloud a term and ask employees to raise their hand if the term elicits a positive response and then again if they a negative response.

 

Have everyone observe the room. Does everyone agree? Is it split? Why might this be?

 

Open the floor to discuss the term’s positive or negative connotations and why. Guide the discussion to focus on intuitive reactions towards change and how it might be possible to regard change in a more positive light.

 

What’s the point?

 

This exercise is great for groups to understand their intuitive reactions to change and that collectively they have the power to choose a positive attitude towards change. Allowing time for a thorough discussion of each term will also give employees the opportunity to express their concerns and shed light on what management can expect.

 

5. The Four P’s

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

Start this exercise with a large whiteboard or flip chart. Create four columns and label them left to right: Project, Purpose, Particulars, and People.

 

Then, have your group of employees fill in each column as follows:

  • Project — list the upcoming changes.
  • Purpose — ask what benefits the change will bring. Will in increase revenue? Will it make processes more efficient?
  • Particulars — list the details of what will need to change. If the project is implementing a new CRM system, one particular might be training to use the new system.
  • People — have the group identify which employees will need to change the way they do things or actively participate the change.

 

What’s the point?

 

This exercise will help participants connect the four areas and see the greater purpose of the change they will soon experience. Participants should be able to come to the conclusion that if they don’t change the way they do their job, then they won’t be able to achieve the objective they set out to do.

 

6. Bouncing Back

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

In a spacious area, hand out bouncy balls for pairs of employees to bounce back and forth for a few minutes. Then, ask them if they ever had any doubts that the ball would fail to bounce back up. Point out that, like the bouncy balls, they too will be able to bounce back from challenges. Finally, let them keep the bouncy balls as a tangible reminder.

 

What’s the point?

 

The game itself is pretty simple, and while it could be explained with a PowerPoint slide of a bouncing ball, the memento of the ball is the real point of this game.

 

7. Can Do Company

change management exercises activities WalkMe

 

How to play:

 

For this final change management exercise, divide employees into groups and have them come up with an idea for a company such as candy bars for cats or water bottles for dogs. Assign members of each group to specific job functions like designing, marketing, distributing, etc. Have each “mini-company” collaborate and prepare a presentation on their product and business plan.

 

After 10 minutes, change the dynamic of the group by moving participants from one group to another, change specifications for the final presentation, and share important information to only one member of each group.

 

Depending on how much time you have, you can repeat the changes or spread them out throughout. After the allotted time has been used, have each group present to pick a winner.

 

What’s the point?

 

Doing this exercise will force participants to be flexible, communicate, and work together. After the exercise is over, follow up with an open discussion on how teams were able to adapt to changes and what benefits came from their new members or new specifications. Be sure to go over how they were able to do so.

 

Follow Up With Stellar Change Management

 

These seven change management activities are all designed to help your employees deal with our natural human resistance to change, to question why we fear change, and to encourage a more productive attitude towards change.

 

Not only will they give individuals a chance to examine their own attitudes towards change in depth, they are sure to enrich any work environment and improve employee productivity. And that’s definitely a change that no-one will be complaining about.

 

But for these change management activities to truly mean something, organizational leadership must follow up with stellar change management. Be sure to check out how WalkMe can smooth your transition.

 

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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