Dear Trainers,
Can Training Games Really Teach? What are the advantages and disadvantages of training games? How long the training impact remains on the participant? e.g. If we take some teambuilding exercise then how long it will last among the team members?
Thanks in advance.

From India, Nagpur
Management Consultant/business Advisor
Human Resources Manager
Leadership, Team & Individual Coach,
Hr Executive
Hr Trainee
Free Lance Trainer
Software Professional


Hello Manish,

Your query "Can Training Games Really Teach? What are the advantages and disadvantages of training games? How long the training impact remains on the participant?"

My observations are that 'Training Games' are useful when used appropriately. The audience learning style is greatly influenced when training games are used to simulate a specific experience in the learning environment coupled with a 'to the point' facilitation. Normally, we would call this as level 3 facilitation - game goals, processes used to attain the goals, individual contribution and the impact of behavior on each other. When the game is administered appropriately, and the consequent experiences facilitated effectively the impact can last longer.

I suggest that you consider reading David Kolb's learning styles - this could give you vital insights on how to design and administer training games, followed by facilitation.

Disadvantages of training games are

1. time consuming

2. tends to be more of fun than learning - considered by some as fad

3. not all like to get involved in training games

4. sometimes it has been used to fill time (activity expanders)

5. trainers role sometimes seen as that of ring masters

6. not all trainees are serious in participating - break rules

7. post training debriefing tends to take long time or no time as participants don't really connect or respond, etc.

Largely, when used as part of the methodology judiciously it is a great facilitator for training effectiveness.

To a great extent the choice of games has to be appropriate to ensure training & learning effectiveness.

I am sure there are going to be lot more contributions from other members as well.

Rgds and best wishes - Sairamesh

From India, Bangalore

The question has been put, Can Training Games Really Teach? My answer is an unequivocal yes.

I've been in business for 35 years. My training experience with several multinational organizations as well as the ongoing operation of my Consultancy has been influenced by the sum total of what I've learned over the period of time I've been in business.

Whenever I gain knowledge that is useful to me either personally or professionally, I apply that knowledge in future activities. That's the best each of us can hope for with the trainees we work with, right?

Perhaps the most effective training game in which I ever participated was a prototype In-Basket exercise during Time Management training in 1977 in New York City. The second most effective training game was a team builder--the egg flying parachute we developed at Henley in the UK in 1993. The third most effective training game was the change cognition exercise I ran in Majuro, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 2006. Why do I remember these games? Because I learned from them...and, in one case, I learned from a training game I was running!

Let's summarize.

Do I believe that training games work? You bet.

Can training games teach useful principles and concepts? Absolutely.

Can everyone leading a group apply a training game to the principles and concepts to be learned? Absolutely not. One must pick and choose the games which will be targeted to the potential learner; the tone and setting for the training game must be correct.

I've had Senior Government Ministers, Education Administrators, Professors, C-Level Management of companies-- even members of Boards of Directors---jump in, have fun, and learn from exercises and games that we developed, implemented, and used as learning tools. It seems that the higher the level of the learner, the more fun they have in participation. Perhaps it's because they sense that something of value is being presented?

Do games work? Of course they do. It depends on the presentation, the learners, the setting, and the application of the learning taken away. But then again, that's what training is all about.

Alan Guinn, Managing Director

The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc.

From United States, Bluff City

Thanks for your response.
I would like to put one case in my previous company.
We had arranged outbound teambuilding program for all head of the departments. After returning from the program the whole team was energized and perceiving themselves as a stakeholder of the company. But after few days one HOD resigned...then the GM of that department had raised the question about the benefits of such OBT program. Why this had happened when all other HODs were energized and became more committed towards organization? Can we say this is the failure of that OBT or there could be other reasons from management side?

From India, Nagpur

Hello Manish:

There are a variety of reasons this could have happened.

Let's share just a few.

1) First and foremost, this manager may have been seeking to leave and just participated in the exercise due to timing issues, or to "go along with the crowd." He could have had his plans to depart made long before the exercise was scheduled.

2) Secondly, it's quite possible that he was feeling "out of the loop" with other managers and this exercise showed him how much everyone else enjoyed themselves and learned from the process--and yet, he was outside, looking in at the others who you report were energized and felt like stakeholders. It can be a very lonely world when you are out of your element.

3) It's also possible that he saw his personal opportunities limited by outstanding abilities of others--which he had not realized up until that point.

4) Although from your explanation I don't see it happening, it could also be that there was a confrontation with his supervisor and his supervisor is now looking to blame the game with the loss of a subordinate.

Lots of games get played in corporate life, and many of them are unscheduled! Off sites are very interesting in that personality challenges and unknown talents emerge in ways never suspected or expected.

My best suggestion to you would have been to simply laugh off the suggestion that the Outbound Team Training Exercise-- in any way-- was responsible for the loss of a manager. Too often we take comments made "off the cuff" by Senior Management too seriously.

I often think about the power of words from my early retail management days when I asked a subordinate to "run the day's deposit down to the bank." When he returned in ten minutes, completely out of breath, hot, tired, and sweaty, I asked him what had happened. He responded that nothing had happened...I had told him to "run" it to the bank, so he did. I learned very quickly the power that "off the cuff" words can have on subordinates.

If that manager was serious about a team building exercise chasing away a HOD, I'd suggest that he needs to examine his own internal motives. By your own admission, it worked with the other heads of department; wouldn't this demonstrate to most that the process was successful?

Alan Guinn, Managing Director

The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc.

From United States, Bluff City

What do training games do ---- they are tools for a specific objective -- the flip side of games is if the debrief is weak the entire impact is down the drain and if you observe the human behaviour --- the pre dominant behaviour comes to the fore front in these simulations and if the facilitator is good he can actually pick them up and can draw the relevance to the real time situation.

I have used same game to draw different learnings in different forums however to check whether it was a failure of OBT to retain the HOD isn't fair and isn't fair for the trainer who executed it, in my views, the other way of looking at it is probably that individual realized his potential is much more than what he can do in the current organization, so your OBT actually helped an individual... Irony is that we do not build sustenace mechanism to ensure ROI on trainings, My request to you would be that find what are the core issues you need to address and creat mechanism and ownership to let the HODs themselves make it happen.

Just being Critic.. hope you'll take it in right spirit... being a facilitator myself I get passionate about these issues...if u need any help feel free to reach me.




From India, Mumbai

Hi Alan Guinn I think this could be the reason. But then how to bring all the team members on same plane to get the full ROI on OBT? Regards Manish
From India, Nagpur


I'd guess that all the remaining team members have realized the ROI objectives for the training, although nothing you've shared necessarily leads me to that conclusion. If all the others became "stakeholders" with the exception of the one, and he left the employment of the company, I'd think that would be evident.

As to the supervisor--and his perception of the ROI gained in the exercise--that, unfortunately, becomes problematic. I'd suggest to you that if, in fact, a confrontation occurred, then the opportunity to convince the supervisor of the ROI is probably limited, at best.

If no confrontation occurred between the two, but the leaving of the Department Head was simply serendipitous, I'd probably just look at including the Department Head in all future training and development activities as a key-role participant. Through the process of participation, he/she can see the inherent value in the program.

Hope that's helpful. Let me know if I can assist further.

Best regards.

Alan Guinn, Managing Director

GCG Worldwide

From United States, Bluff City

Alan Guinn, Thanks for your reply. One last help please. What are the competencies/skills required to become a trainer, HR/OD consultant? Thanks Manish
From India, Nagpur

Hello Manish:

Well, that's a great question. I could probably write another book on that question, but I'll keep my reply short--less than 5 pages, anyway!

The skills to be a good trainer, in my opinion, differ somewhat from those required to be a good HR/OD Consultant.

Let's consider a trainer, first.

A good trainer is one that is not afraid to share information; one who does not "preach" at others, does not direct or manage, does not force information-- and one that is not afraid to share.

Many people could be good trainers, but they simply don't feel comfortable in the role. How can you tell if you'd be a good trainer? Ask yourself that question--are you comfortable sharing information with others?

Training is a role where definitive leadership skills must play a part; how you present yourself to the world can help distinguish if you have the skills to create a climate where others are drawn to you for your knowledge and expertise---you can, of course, have those skills and not be able to make the best use of them. You can also lack those skills, but learn techniques which allow you to maximize attributes of leadership.

My opinion is that the best trainers are those that share with others.

I've developed national sales programs for about a dozen companies here in the USA, and in each case, I developed their unique programs from a "sharing" perspective. Why? A variety of reasons. First and foremost, it's not confrontational, it's coming from a position that is easily accepted, and it connotes value to your position, no matter what position you hold. I've probably read 50% of the "selling skills" books in the marketplace--even some written by "experts" in their craft--and found them seriously lacking.

For you to have the most impact on learners as a trainer, you must create a climate where they are comfortable learning. In so doing, you ease aside the barriers to learning--and let's be honest--there are many barriers that a trainer has to minimize. I see them everyday when I do in-person seminars, and I hear them in voices and questions when I do webinars. When I come from a "sharing" perspective, however, many of them are reduced to simple questions that can be readily answered.

So I'd say, first, learn how to share with others.

Secondly, as a trainer, you must be able to communicate. Learn the best communication skills you can--whether they are written or oral. If what you say or write is not what the other person hears or reads, you've got a problem. No matter how skillful you are in your craft, no matter how much knowledge you have or how much experience you attain, you won't be able to share it with a learner. What good is knowledge to a trainer that can't be shared with a trainee?

Third--I'd say, focus on the needs of your learners. Ted Lapidus, in his book High Impact Training stated the obvious--and I'm paraphrasing here, but one of his key lessons was to learn who your audience is, and teach what they need.

So often, as trainers, we find that what we are teaching--although it's what the client requested--is not what the trainees need. I've stood in front of groups 60 minutes into a five hour presentation and thought to myself, "Why am I even talking about this? This group hasn't a clue where we're going and when they get there, they won't even recognize they've been there and left!" In every presentation now, I check the level of the audience. If the lowest level of the audience doesn't grasp the basics, I've lost them before I start. That's where the share concept comes into play. If you have to use it to bring a group to a level to accept what you're saying, you can do so.

Fourth, I'm a firm believer in the classical three step format; tell them what you're going to say, say it, then tell them what you just said. This works very well with the "share" that the trainees hear, they see, they aren't afraid to offer feedback, and they learn.

As to the skills to be a good HR/OD Consultant, let me simply itemize them.

1) Be willing to listen to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

2) Be willing to look at the macro-environment and gain knowledge as a function of your examination of the world around you.

3) Understand that every participant in a discussion has a vested interest in the outcome of the discussion.

4) Always look at the positive attributes of the people involved in any issue; recognize it takes two to develop an argument; two can negotiate but roles must be defined.

5) Find strengths where others find weaknesses.

6) Involve as many as possible in decision-making processes because very few have ever lost their jobs over consensus decisions.

7) Keep your own counsel about issues you feel strongly about; your attitudes and outlook may or may not be positive factors in conflict resolution or development opportunities.

8) Listen more than you talk. Let others talk more than you. Learn from the mistakes of others.

9) Be pleasant to others. Smile frequently, even if the situation doesn't always demand it.

10) Never stop learning. Recognize that you can learn as much or more from the actions, directions, responses and attributes of others than you know now. Why not take advantage of the benefit of learning?

Manish, I hope that is helpful to you. Good luck in your quest.

Alan Guinn, Managing Director

GCG Worldwide

From United States, Bluff City

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