Workshops combine training, development, team-building, communications, motivation and planning. Participation and involvement of staff increases the sense of ownership and empowerment, and facilitates the development of organizations and individuals. Workshops are effective in managing change and achieving improvement, and particularly the creation of initiatives, plans, process and actions to achieve particular business and organizational aims. Workshops are also great for breaking down barriers, improving communications inside and outside of departments, and integrating staff after acquisition or merger. Workshops are particularly effective for (CRM) customer relationship management development. The best and most constructive motivational team-building format is a workshop, or better still series of workshops, focusing on the people’s key priorities and personal responsibilities/interest areas, which hopefully will strongly overlap with business and departmental aims too. Workshops can be integrated within regular monthly team meetings – an amazing amount of motivation progress and productivity can be accomplished with just a 90 mins workshop per month. Workshop facilitation by a team leader or manager develops leadership, and workshops achieve strong focus on business aims among team members. Workshops are very effective for training too – workshops encourage buy-in and involvement more than conventional training courses because they are necessarily participative, and the content and output are created by the delegates. Also, the relationship between workshop facilitator or workshop presenter and delegates is participative, whereas a ‘trainer’ is often perceived as detached, and the training material ‘not invented here’.
There are many workshop format variations – here’s a basic workshop format:
Tips on designing workshops
Workshops are an extremely flexible and effective method for training, learning, development, change management, team building and problem solving, and virtually any organizational challenge.
You can actually run any sort of workshop you want – your options are as wide as your imagination and certainly not limited to off-the-shelf or tried and tested formats.
Think about and then agree openly your aim(s) for each workshop or and/or session.
Invite suggestions from delegates beforehand as to workshop subjects and aims if you want to maximize commitment and empowerment.
It helps for certain aims to use a model or concept to explain the theory behind your intentions, for example if dealing with communications and motivation, helpful models are: Johari, Maslow, Mcgregor, Tuckman, Emotional Intelligence – these sort of concepts are interesting and accessible for students and organizational delegates of all types. There are many others on this site.
There are also lots of materials and templates on the free resources section which help to theme and underpin workshop sessions.
Split big groups into pairs or threes – this is more dynamic and produces more ideas – and gets the whole group working better, particularly when they present ideas and review with the whole group. As with teambuilding exercises, if you split into sub-teams of more than four it’s advisable to have each team appoint a leader, or things can be chaotic and some members become ‘passengers’.
Try to agree actions and accountabilities at the end of sessions and workshops which enable follow-up.
My approach to workshops is always to tailor the content and structure for the particular situation, which I would encourage you to do, rather than use off-the-shelf formats. Approach it like training design – what are you (or the delegates) seeking to achieve? Be specific – more specific than just ‘team-building’ or ‘improving relationships’ – you need to identify a specific element within a general aim.
Establish and agree a measurable output(s) or result(s) that represent the aim(s), and then work back from there in thinking how to structure the workshop or session(s).
Unless you have a good reason for using laptops and projector, have the delegates use flip chart paper and colored marker pens, and hang the sheets around the walls. This enables delegates to be far more dynamic and creative than modern technology media.
Encourage people to use creative methods that are appropriate for their personal styles and learning styles.
Visual, spatial, creative people enjoy working with flip-charts, colors, ‘post-it’ notes, etc.
People-centered individuals and teams enjoy human interaction – role-plays, discussions, mutual interviews, etc.
Logical, numerate, process-oriented people are happier with more structured planning tools and computers.
Think about the sort of people in the workshop groups and provide tools, materials and methods that they will be comfortable using.
PROCESSING, PLEASE WAIT...