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Embark 2.0 Trainers Notes

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Trainer Preparation

Check through the trainer’s notes and prepare your flipcharts before the event, ensure they are neat and legible.  Delegates need to be able to read them from a distance, so avoid using red or yellow, as these are difficult to read at a distance.

Check through the equipment list column and ensure you have all the necessary equipment before the event.

Trainer Delivery Tips

Ask all the delegates to sign in so that you know whom you have in the room in case there is a fire.

Check the room for health and safety, comfortable temperature and sufficient lighting.

Create a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere for the colleagues attending your programme; this is more conducive to learning.

Structure and prepare effectively before each event.

Consider the pace of the group and go at the pace of the slowest learner to ensure that all participants are learning.

Respect each individual within the training environment and utilize their experiences whenever possible as this can help you to get your message across.

Arrive at your training room at least 30 – 45 minutes before the programme is due to start so that you can set your room up, ensure that the tables and chairs etc. are where you want them to be and that all the equipment / material you need is present and in working order.

You may choose to create a sign to put on the door to your training room to welcome your colleagues.

Ensure you can read the flipchart from the furthest seat in the room.

Speak clearly at all times and maintain as much eye contact as possible with the group in order to build and maintain rapport.

Here we list any relevant equipment required for any exercise, including how many are required in total and any preparation that needs to be done in advance.

Equipment Required

  • Flipchart paper and stand
  • Flipchart pens
  • Packet of Blu-tac
  • Packs of post it notes
  • Hand out x 1 per person
  • Laptop with power point deck pre-loaded
  • Ball of String or Wool
  • Coloured Pencils x 4 packs of multi coloured
  • A4 Paper
  • Stop Watch or Timer of Mobile phone

Trainer Prep

Put the handouts out in each person’s place before they enter the room.

Have a slide showing with name of the programme, your name, date

While they are all entering the room, shake their hands, make them feel welcome and act as a host.

Ask them to sign-in on the sign in sheet.

1 x handout per delegate

sheet and pen

09.00 – 09.20

Leadership Journey Outline

The aim of the section is to set the scene for the Global programme and how this sits within the global development of leadership.  This is an introduction to the most fundamental tools and techniques as a manager and it will introduce them to best practise management and leadership at RB

Welcome to Embark RB’s Global First Line Manager programme (insert your own personal introduction here).

Embark is the first part of Leadership Journey – it is an opportunity to learn about tried and tested tools and techniques, and best practice, all of which will equip you in your first role in management or if you are already doing the job it will enable to reflect on your current style of management and how by adapting it you will be able to become more effective and achieve more from your team.

Getting it right at the start of your management career is essential if you are going to be the most effective manager and leader you can be and as the title of the programme suggests ‘Embark’ this is about embarking on your career and by using the tools and techniques we will introduce you to I can guarantee you will save yourself time and achieve so much more.

In front of you, you will see a handout this has been created for the programme – it has all the information you need on this subject, it is a handout not a textbook and is designed for you to personalize with your own notes (there are additional notes pages at the back of the handout should you require them). As you will be moving around it maybe an idea to write your names on the front so that you take the right copy away with you.

  • Go through the appropriate H&S and general domestics of the day.
  • Mobiles off etc. we know that this is something some of you feel you can’t do however this is your time and you will only attend it once and therefore you need to make the most of the opportunity and investment being made in you.

This programme will work best if I ask you lots of questions and you take part in exercises as teams and small groups.

  • We aim to finish by 17.00
  • We will have lunch at ______
  •  And   breaks at 10.30 and 15.00

Be as open as you can in order to help you tailor your learning from today.  Ask questions whenever they come into your head and challenge me and the material to make it work for you.

09.20 – 09.50

Warm Up Exercise 

The aim of the section is to introduce everyone to each other and to gauge their current level of confidence to contribute to the group.

It will also allow the trainer to hear the correct pronunciation of each name, this will be particularly useful when running this course overseas and faced with unfamiliar names.

Web Exercise (10 minutes)

Ask the group to stand in a circle. Hold on to the end of the string and throw the ball/spool to one of the group to catch. They then tell the group their name and choose a question from 1-20 to answer. Using the list below, read them their question, they must answer it first and then keeping hold of their part of the string they then throw the ball to another member of the group.


1. If you had a time machine that would work only once, what point in the future or in history would you visit?

2. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

3. If your house was burning down, what three objects would you try and save?

4. If you could talk to any one person now living, who would it be and why?

5. If you HAD to give up one of your senses (hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting) which would it be and why?

6. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

7. Name a gift you will never forget?

8. Name one thing you really like about yourself.

9. If you could have a super power what would it be and why?

10. What's your favourite thing to do in the summer?

11. Who's your favourite cartoon character, and why?

12. If you could change your name what would you change it to and why?

13. What is the hardest thing you have ever done?

14. If you are at a friend's or relative's house for dinner and you find a dead insect in your salad, what would you do?

15. What was the best thing that happened to you last week?

16. If you had this week over again what would you do differently?

17. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Holidays?

18. What's the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?

19. If you could change one problem in the world today, what would you like to change?

20. What book, movie or DVD have you seen/read recently you would recommend? Why?

Eventually this creates a web as well as learning some interesting things about each other.  At the end of the game you could comment that

You all played a part in creating this unique web and if one person was gone it would look different.  In the same way it's important that we all take part to make the group what it is, unique and special.  This will also help us as we work through the next 3 days, getting to know each other and ourselves.


Ball of string/wool


Me as a Leader

Ask participants to draw a “picture of yourself as a leader”

Everyone shows the picture and the group tells them what is that they see, what is surprising, what is missing

Depending on the size of the group you can divide the group into sub-groups

Summarize the observations in the whole group at the end

10.20 – 10.30



Role Model Leadership

Facilitate the group through RB Values and 5 Pillars. Focus on

  • What does it mean for them
  • What it means with regards to expected leadership
  • What examples of good leadership behaviour they have seen in relation to values and pillars

This can be a brief discussion with the aim of highlighting that we have clear guidelines on what is expected from leaders

11.00 – 11.45

What makes a good Leader?

The aim of the section is to assess their current leadership style and if this is currently correct for the team they are leading, we will use this to build on the rest of the day.

The most sensible place to start your Embark journey is right at the start, so we are going to get you to complete an assessment that will help to identify what your current leadership profile is.

Successful leaders are those who can adapt their behaviour to meet the demands of their own unique situations.

This is a model that is frequently used in many different types of organisations to assess style, it is based on the Situational Leadership model that was designed by Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the late 1960’s it is a model that has stood the test of time and is still widely used today.

It will help you to diagnose the demands of your situation and is based on the amount of direction (task behaviour) and the amount of socioemotional or relationship support (people behaviour) a leader must provide given the situation and the readiness of the followers.

Task behaviour is the extent to which a leader engages in one-way communication by explaining what the team is to do as well as when and how tasks are to be accomplished. (Also described as authoritarian or autocratic)

People behaviour is the extent to which a leader engages in two-way communication by providing social/emotional, relationship support and Participating behaviours.  (Also described as participative or democratic)

We will refer back to the results over the next 3 days as this will help you to have real visibility of your route towards your leadership aspirations.

We will be reverting back to this over the three days.

Assessment Exercise (10 minutes)

Ask the group to turn to page 5 in their handouts.

Don’t explain too much about the outcome of the exercise just explain the mechanics of how to fill out the questionnaire and that there are no right or wrong answers.

This is an individual task:-

Look at each question in turn rate yourself, tick the box that you feel most accurately describes the score you would give yourself for how interactive you are with you team in the various situations. Tick one box for each; you will see what each score is on page 6. 

Go with your gut instinct; don’t deliberate for too long, when all 20 are completed and the whole group has finished (this should take no more than 3-4 minutes). Ask them to  turn to page 6 and respectively calculate your scores for questions 1 – 10 which you will plot on the horizontal axis which describes your task related behaviour’s and then do the same for questions 11 to 20 which you will plot on the vertical axis these describe

a representation of your Leadership style

On page 7 you will find a description of the behaviours your team will experience from your Leadership Style.

Discuss the results in plenary making sure to include the following:-

  • All of these styles demonstrate elements of effective leadership, however as an individual starts to develop a leader should start in Directing S1 then move to Coaching S2, then onto Supporting S3 finally ending up in Delegating S4.
  • With experienced ‘ready’ individuals you should aim to move towards a more Delegating style as this is more ‘hands-off’ and less time consuming.
  • With inexperience individuals, you may need to demonstrate more of a Directing style before moving to one of the other quadrants
  • A score of 25/25 demonstrates a good flexible style, this is the ultimate, and this is where you should be aiming towards.
  • The score will show your preference, which may have been learned or circumstantial.

You increase your team’s readiness by increasing the amount of ‘people’ behaviours you demonstrate but this has to be done slowly.

Ask the group the following questions to generate a discussion:

Q:  Why do you need to increase people behaviours slowly?

A: People behaviour is much more ‘hands off’ if you do this too soon it might knock the confidence in the follower.

Q: If you have a team that lacks confidence or are unwilling to take on new tasks, what behaviours might you need to demonstrate to increase their readiness?

A: Positive re-enforcement i.e. rewards appropriate behaviours until the followers become closer to the leaders expectations of good performance.

Q: What would happen if the leader reduced a little of the structure or direction of tasks given?

A: It would give the follower/team an opportunity to assume some increased responsibility, if this is accepted and used well by the follower this could then be positively re-enforced by the leader (positive strokes/feedback), which would build confidence and readiness.

Q: What happen if the leader does not change their behaviours with followers?

A: Follower’s development may be stifled and leader begins to reinforce dependent behaviours in the follower.

As the reduction in the task behaviours continues the people behaviours can begin to increase, which ultimately results in followers feeling positive reinforcement for their accomplishments by not having the leader looking over their shoulder but by being left to get on with it.  This can often take time and is very dependent on mutual trust between follower and leader.

Explain the following on FC as this is the link into Situational Leadership:

S1 = High Task/Low People behaviour (Directing). One-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of followers and tells them what, how, when and where to do various tasks.

S2 = High Task/High People behaviour (Coaching). Most of the direction is still provided by the leader.  The leader also attempts through two-way communication and socioemotional, relationship support to get the followers to ‘buy-in’ to decisions that have to be made.

S3 = High Relationship/Low Task behaviour (Supporting).  Leader and followers now share in decision making through two-way communication and much Participating behaviour from the leader as the followers have the knowledge and ability to do the task.

S4 = Low Relationship/low Task behaviour (Delegating).  Let’s the followers ‘run their own show’.  The leader delegates as the followers are high in readiness, have the ability and are both willing and able to take responsibility for their own behaviours.

Adaptability Test (10 minutes)

We are now going to look at some specific situations and help you to assess how able you are to ascertain what each of these individual situations requires in terms of leadership behaviours.  Allow 5 minutes.

Ask the group to turn to page 8 and complete the mini assessment, they can deliberate to decide what they would do but they should choose a response based on reality rather than what they think is the right answer.

The answer grids replicate the quadrants i.e. the correct answer is in the relevant position on the sit-rep grid so it will be easy for you to see which style they are using if it is not the correct one.


Scenario 1, correct answer is A and is situated in ‘Directing‘ quadrant, this team needs the leader to demonstrate more S1 behaviours as they have a low degree of readiness, confidence, this might only be a temporary measure but it needs to be addressed before moving around the quadrants.

Scenario 2, correct answer is B and is situated in ‘Supporting‘quadrant, this team has a moderate to high degree of readiness, they are very able but somewhat unwilling or insecure for some reason.  They need the leader to demonstrate more S3 behaviours.

Scenario 3, correct answer is A and is situated in ‘Delegating ‘quadrant, this team demonstrates a high degree of readiness, they are willing, able and confident and need the leader to demonstrate more S4 behaviours.

Scenario 4, correct answer is D and is situated in ‘Coaching‘ quadrant, this team needs the leader to demonstrate more S2 behaviours as they have a low-moderate degree of readiness but they are willing.

Discuss the results on a one to one basis very briefly i.e. whether or not the styles they chose was the right one for that situation and identify any patterns or preferences that may be emerging.  

In plenary ensure to help them to understand any patterns that are established if they have chosen the wrong style, discuss the impact using this style will have and how using the right style would help them the develop the team more effectively.

In summary:  leaders must know their staff well enough to meet the ever-changing abilities and demands placed on them.  While leaders may use a specific style for the group they may have to behave quite differently with individuals because of differing levels of follower readiness.  In both cases, changes in leadership style from S1 to S2 and S3 and S4 must be gradual, this process cannot be revolutionary, and it must be evolutionary through a process of gradual developmental changes, planned growth and the creation of mutual trust and respect.  (There will be a link with this when we do Johari Window later)

As we go through the next 3 days you will learn different ways that you can adapt your behaviours in order to enable you to be more flexible in your leadership style.


12.00 – 12.45

Developing Interpersonal Relationships

The aim of the section is to introduce the group to the responsibility they have to increase their self-awareness and give them a model that will help them to categorise where they can spend time and work to increase/reduce certain areas that will help them to improve the relationships they have with others as a manager.

Model called The Johari Window

This model includes four ‘windows’ to represent the location of ideas and information available, within a group of people who are dependent upon one another to achieve a common outcome.  

If you imagine that the vertical line is like vertical blinds it can move left and right to let in as much or as little light as possible, the further right this line is, and the more light comes into the public and hidden window i.e. by making the blind and unknown windows shrink.  The horizontal line is like a venetian blind (in reverse) and can move up and down, when it is down this increases the light coming into the public and blind window i.e. by making the hidden and unknown windows shrink.  When they both move this changes the shape of all the squares and this happens when information is/isn’t shared/known.

At any one time during its use information important to the success of the team is available in one of the four windows.

  • Public window
  • Blind spot
  • Hidden window
  • Unknown window

This will help you to develop your role as a leader and work towards your leadership aspirations, but more specifically, over the next 3 days the intention is to reduce your blind spot by getting feedback and reflecting on your own skills and abilities, through this process the information moves into the public window.

Generally in a new or difficult working relationship the Public window is small, communication is superficial and guarded.  Suggestions are not implemented and often left undeveloped.  Productivity is low.  Much info is kept hidden or is unknown and people are often blind to information that others have.

Public window

Your aim as a leader is to increase the size of the public window by building open and productive communication, mutuality, sharing.  This is done by focusing specifically on the other 3 areas, not by just focusing on making things public it is a welcome by product of reducing the others.

Hidden Window

You reduce the size of the hidden window by sharing and discussing info that you or your team/company know but that the general public doesn’t.  Such info might include your personal goals and expectations.

Blind Spot

You reduce the size of the blind spot by seeking

Information e.g. specific goals etc.

E.G If we base this window on our relationship as a group you know my name and so do I, so this is in the public window.  You don’t know my favorite ice cream, but I do so this is in the hidden window.  Let’s say I have accidentally got marker pen on my face, you can see this but I can’t so this is in the blind spot.  And, finally none of us know whether or not we could learn to juggle in 15 minutes so this is in the unknown window.

Unknown Window

By reducing the size of the hidden window and blind spot the size of the unknown window is automatically decreased.  

Johari Exercise (15 minutes)

Split the group into groups of 4

Turn to Page 10 and imagine that each of these boxes is describing the relationship you have with your team.  Discuss what the impact of each of the shapes would be on that relationship and what you would need to do in order to improve the shape, write your answers in the box to the right hand side.

Share and debrief in plenary being sure to cover the following points:-

  • Small Public Window –  The large blind spot suggests that your team know more about some matters than you do, this may because you are new to the team and don’t know them yet.  The Hidden window is also slightly large, suggesting you are ‘hiding’ information from the team; the unknown box is large suggesting there is a lack of feedback opportunities for the relationship and that the whole team is not often in situations that are new or challenging.  This relationship may demonstrate a lack of trust.  To improve the blind spot – ask the other party for feedback about yourself, to improve the hidden window, share information with the team, to improve the unknown window introduce opportunities for the whole team to embark on a work-related team task i.e. plan the next team meeting together, this will open up the opportunities for sharing information and feedback, habits can have an impact on others and if someone has never received feedback about something then the blind spot could continue to grow, this will open up opportunities for growth as a team and feedback opportunities for all.

  • Large Public Window – Whilst this is better than the first box due to the larger scale of the public window, there is an argument that suggests that with the unknown window being so small in comparison to the others, may suggest that there are too few opportunities to explore new territory and this could be seen as a lack of willingness to take responsibility as a Manager.  To improve the shape slightly, explore opportunities for the whole team to embark on an unknown task, to open up the opportunities to find out new things about each other’s skills and to share information and feedback.  Maybe this is a good opportunity to do more traditional team tasks that occur out of the work place and are not specifically work related tasks as in the previous example.

Share and debrief by asking the following facilitative questions:

Q: How can you use this model to support you towards your leadership aspirations?

Q: How can this help you to demonstrate RB’s core values through yourself and your team?

If you have time ask them to draw their team’s Johari window and share a few of them and what this shows them about what they might want to do to improve it.

PPT 19

12.45 – 13.45





10.10 – 10.25

Questioning & Listening

The aim of the section is to provide the foundational questioning and listening skills that are essential to becoming an effective coach.

We are going to move on now to Coaching, some of you may have had some experience of coaching already and some of you might be new to do it, we are going to start with some of the essential skills that will help you to be a more efficient and professional coach.

In many of the situations that you encounter as a manager there will be an element of questioning, in order to be a flexible Manager and coach you need to be able to utilize the right type of questioning at the right time

Post-it exercise (5 minutes)

Split the group into pairs and give them 1 post-it each and ask them to secretly write the name of a person on it and then stick it on their partner’s forehead so that they can’t see it (e.g. Michael Jackson, Simon Cowell, Barack Obama, David Beckham etc.).

Ask questions to find out who you are, You are limited to just 10 questions and you have to guess who you are.  The questions: “Who am I” and “What is my name?” and anything similar are banned in this activity.

This is not the yes/no game they can ask any questions they want to so that we can compare those that work well and those that don’t and how well they react to the feedback they get from the other person so that they achieve their goal in the 10 questions.

As the trainer you may wish to run through an example for the group, only answer the questions appropriate to the quality of the questions asked.

Debrief the quality at the end of the activity – whether they get the famous person or not, which questions worked the best and why.  Open questions that gave lots more information are likely to have been the most useful, closed and repetitive questions are likely to have taken and longer and been difficult to remember all the individual answers.

Trainer to ask the group the following question:-

Q: What type of questions gave you the most information?

  • Open

Q: What was the problem when you asked too many specific and closed questions?

  • Answers are too narrow
  • ‘Coach’ did all the talking
  • ‘Coach’ had too much to try and remember
  • ‘Coach’ dictated the direction of the conversation

Q: Why are Open Questions best to use when Coaching?

  • They allow the other person to do all the talking
  • Coaching partner can direct the coaching
  • Coach can tailor the partner’s knowledge by reacting to their specific learning style etc.
  • Gives the coach a better idea of how they can support the coaching partner

Questioning Technique

The funnel is a great way of thinking about how to link your questions in order to support your coaching partner.  In the vast majority of coaching situations you can adopt this pattern and it will keep you the coach on track and will enable you to get a really clear idea of the needs of your coaching partner.

Ideally you should only be talking 30% of the time as your questions are son conversational that they generate 70% of the discussion coming from the other person.

Open questions

  • These should really get your coaching partner talking and should be very conversational
  • They are likely to be ones that seek information and might start with How, What, Where, Why, Who, When (this is represented by the rugby posts in top left hand corner of handout)
  • Questions that start with “Tell Me”  “Explain how” or ‘Describe…” – work really well to encourage conversation from the coaching partner.
  • Don’t get too distracted by always asking an Open Question – it’s just about being aware that they should be the majority.

Probing questions

  • Following up questions with other probing questions will help gain more clarity, this is key to being a good coach.
  • Probing questions and Constructive Challenging help to explore ideas and answers.

Closed questions

  • These are questions that require a very short answer, yes, no, tomorrow, now etc.
  • Their aim is to establish a fact
  • After asking a closed question a coach is likely to be moving onto to another theme or finishing the coaching session
  • They can often be used to purely establish a fact if a coaching partner is covering old ground or taking too long to get to a point.

Share the following extra points in a general discussion with the group to tie all the core skills up before moving on.

  • Leading and Multiple questions are largely ineffective when coaching as they can confuse and often very important points can be missed.
  • Never accept a “face value” answer or first idea – ensure you follow up with a relevant question to probe more or maybe to discuss practicality or how they might implement.
  • If you have to give a solution or an idea because the coaching partner is really struggling, then ensure you ask a question about your point – “How might that work?” – “What do you see as being the first steps with that way forward?”
  • It’s OK to offer a solution if you have to as long as the way forward is the coaching partner and they think it through.

Meta Models

The coaching partner may well bring various issues/concerns and challenges to the coaching interaction and a lot of this can be identified through their use of language.  We all have a different experience of life – and from the information we gain – we all create our own unique model of the world.  Though this has much positive value and can help with future decisions it can also limit behaviour.  Meta Models describe language patterns that can limit thinking and behaviour, and as a result, the coaching experience.

Talk through each of the example and invite the group to share whether or not these are ones that they have heard before and do they have examples of others that they may have heard a junior, peer or senior use.  Discuss how to continue to ask open questions in each case.

Deletions – when selective bits of information are missing and as the coach, if you had visibility of this it would be easier for you to help them solve their issue.

Limitations – when language is used that suggests that rules or limitations are being self-imposed, ‘must’ ‘must  not’, ‘should’, ‘cannot’, there may or may not be good reasons for these statements and as a coach it is worth finding out, in order to remove limitations.

Generalizations – these often all-embracing type statements that allow for no exceptions, ‘never’, ‘always’, ‘everyone’, It is important to challenge these as they can very often prevent any progress from continuing.

Meta Models Exercise (10 minutes)

For each of the following statements on Page 30, decide which meta-model is at play and decide on an appropriate question to use, that will enable you to move the conversation on and continue to coach

You also need to create 1 example of each that you may have come across when coaching. In each case decide how you would continue to question.

Debrief in plenary sharing their conclusions – suggested answers are as follows, in brackets is the clue as to why they fall in to this category:-

1 – Generalisation (people)

2 – Deletion (about what?)

3 – Limitation (better not to)

4 – Generalisation (never)

5 – Limitation (need)

6 – Deletion (about what?)

Go through the ones they have come up with themselves and challenge them to be practical about how they would continue to coach and probe through any of the meta models used.


As you are asking all these incredible questions and challenging any conversational barriers with powerful questions, you are going to be doing a lot of listening, in fact 70% of the time you will be listening, this isn’t as easy as it sounds when you are trying to concentrate on being a great coach too.

Listening exercise (5 minutes)

Split the group into pairs; allocate each pair an A and B, ask the A's to wait outside the room for instructions. Brief the B's with the following – think of something that you can talk about for about a minute i.e. a hobby (golf, fishing, swimming etc.) favorite film, holiday, kids etc. etc. They need to talk about this for about a minute with their partner when they return to the room.  Take the A's out of hearing range of the rest of the group and ask them to work really hard to listen passively i.e. they should actively search for things that will help them totally zone out, when they feel they have completely missed parts of what the other person is saying they should raise their hand.

Allow the exercise to continue until everyone has raised their hand.  Debrief by asking the following question and write their responses onto the FC:

Q:  What kind of things did you do to stop yourself from listening?

  • Fidgeting
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Looking out window
  • Distractions
  • Thinking about something else

It’s really easy to let these kinds of things get in the way of listening, they can become barriers to listening, so it is important to be aware of them and try and plan to avoid them, or manage your environment so that these things don’t become a problem.  Lots of the things listed above are environmental and within your reach to manage and eliminate or at least minimize the negative impact they have on the ability to listen effectively, particularly when coaching.

Ask the group the following question and flipchart their responses:

Q:  How would you describe role model listening?

  • Allowing everyone to have an input
  • Good questioning techniques
  • Repeating what people have said to show you have listened and understood
  • Good eye contact
  • Positive responses
  • Encouraging and not interrupting
  • Demonstrate genuine interests
  • Follows up on actions raised during interaction
  • Able to ask right questions to come to right decisions
  • Having an open and curious mind
  • Listening for new ideas
  • Tuning into ourselves as well as the other person
  • Listening to what we say and how we say it

Q:  What sort of things prevent us from listening?  Flip their responses

  • Talker's mannerisms
  • Volume of talker's voice
  • Loud noises in vicinity
  • Room temperature too hot or cold
  • View outside the window / room
  • Clock watching
  • Interruptions / phone calls
  • Talker speaking to fast, slow
  • Fidgeting
  • Doodling
  • Mind on other work related things

One Minute Autobiography

Split the group into pairs

You each have 3 minutes to prepare a 1 minute auto biography, this is an individual task do not share this with anyone, write your notes in the page in your handout, get as much detail in there as possible, dates, place names, which school and university you went to, where you were born, hobbies etc. etc.

If you have a small group (i.e. 3 or less) then you should read out your autobiography and get them to write down what they can remember about yours and then compare who remembered what in the debrief.

You are now each going to take it in turns to tell the other person your 1 minute autobiography, the other person must just listen, you are not allowed to take notes or ask questions, when the person has finished the listener must summarize what was said whilst the story teller marks off the points they raise in their handout as a score.  Then swap roles and repeat.

Ask the following questions to debrief this part of the exercise:

Q: How did you all get on?

Q: Did any of you manage to include all the points in your summary?

Q: Did anyone find that easy / difficult, why?

If you did manage to summarize absolutely everything well done, this shows that you were demonstrating empathetic listening, if you didn’t manage to summarize absolutely everything or you found that part of the task difficult it is often because some other internal process is busy at work inside your head.  

You remembered everything because I told you that you had to, so you devoted all your attention to that task, you weren’t distracted too much by what was going on around you or the volume level in the room.  This is what I would describe as empathetic listening, which is talker-centered listening; we will be looking at this in more detail shortly.  I also didn’t allow you to engage with the talker in any way, this in itself can impact on the way that we listen; we are going to look at this next.

Autobiographical Listening

When we converse with another person our interventions (which will be well intended) can take the talker off their agenda and onto our own i.e. autobiographical listening.  If we are really listening to understand, even asking questions can affect the course of the conversation.

Ask for a member of the group to volunteer to talk about an issue that they feel a negative emotion around, e.g. they may find lateness really rude or infuriating. On a scale of 1 – 10 (one being no emotion, 10 being extremely high emotion) ask them to go for a 6/7.  Ask them to talk about their situation and as they do, ask questions and make comments that are on your agenda and are autobiographical with an intent to take the talker off course.  EG “How angry did that make you feel?”  “A similar thing happened to a friend of mine”  “Why do you think they did that?”.  Ask the rest of the group to observe.  Repeat for a couple of minutes or until you feel you’ve demonstrated autobiographical listening.

Debrief using the following questions

  • What did you notice about the impact my interactions were having on the direction of the conversation?
  • Where were my questions coming from?
  • What is the danger of doing what I did?

Quite often when we ask questions in an attempt to understand, we can take the conversation in a different direction to the speaker’s intended direction.  We will be doing this out of good intention, but we can unknowingly “hi-jack” the conversation.  This is particularly dangerous when we need to be listening empathically as the speaker may start off talking about something other than they really want to while they are “sussing out” whether or not they feel we are listening to them.  So, if we’re not careful, we may never get to the root of the issue.

When we are listening, we can simply “be” and allow the other person to talk.  To build trust, reflecting back emotion to the speaker is really helpful.  

Ask for another volunteer to talk about an issue and this time listen completely empathically without asking any questions.  Simply reflect back emotion you are hearing.  EG.  

Speaker “My boss makes me really angry when he belittles me in front of my team”

Listener “You feel angry about the way your boss speaks to you in front of your team”

Speaker “Yes, and I find it really difficult to keep my cool and I think the team pick up on this”

Listener “So, you worry that your team see that your boss is upsetting to you”….

When we reflect back, if we’ve got it right, the speaker will give verbal and non-verbal signals that they’ve understood.

Q: How did the second run differ from the first?

Q: How did it feel as the speaker?

If we do need to ask questions, we need to make our questions “clean”.  The definition of a clean question is a question that keeps the speaker on their agenda.  

Again, ask for another volunteer to speak about an issue and this time ask clean questions.  E.g. “What’s that like?”  “In what way?”  “And…?”  “Anything else?” “Which is most important to you?”  Or simply using silence.

Again, debrief the types of questions asked and the impact they had.  Ask how those questions are different from:-

“How did that make you feel?”  (Which supposes there was emotion attached and that the speaker wants to talk about it)

“Why do you think Bob did that?”  (Which makes the speaker stop to think and could interrupt their thought pattern – they may not be ready to do that at this point)

Clean Questions Exercise (10 minutes)

Please turn to page 19 in your handouts and with the person sitting next to you, come up with some clean questions, that you can use in a variety of situations that will enable you to ‘lead up’ more often e.g. “what’s that like?”  “In what way?”  “And…?”  “Anything else?” “Which is most important to you?” 

This type of listening is called Empathetic Listening; we are now going to do an assessment to see how often you listen at this level.

Listening Assessment Exercise (10 minutes)

Aim:  This section is designed to give the colleagues an indication of what their preferred level of listening is most likely to be.

Complete the listening styles assessment in the handout Page 20 and transfer your scores to the scoring index, there is then the choice for you to represent those figures in a visual format at the bottom of the Page 21.  Go with your gut instinct and do not deliberate too long on any of the questions.

Debrief with the following explanation:

Listening can be divided into 3 levels, they are not rigid definitions and there is a fairly fluid distinction between each level, each level is defined by certain characteristics, we will use them all at different times and in different situations.

Level 1 -

Empathetic listening

  • talker centered
  • refrains from judging talker
  • places self in other position
  • very aware and in the present moment
  • doesn't allow self to be distracted
  • pays attention to talker 's body language
  • empathic towards the talker's feelings
  • listens from the heart
  • shows both verbally and non-verbally that they are truly listening

Level 2 – 

Superficial listening -

  • hear words but not really listening to the meaning
  • make little effort to understand the talker's intent
  • listen logically to the content rather than the feeling
  • remain emotionally detached
  • can lead to misunderstandings
  • talker is lead into a false sense that the listener is listening and understanding them as they may look like they are

level 3 - 

Intermittent listening -

  • listening in spurts
  • tuning in and out
  • more aware of others rather than the talker
  • mainly pays attention to self
  • follows discussion but only enough to get a chance to talk
  • quiet and passive doesn't respond much
  • internally making judgments, forming rebuttals or advice
  • thinking about what they want to say next
  • more interested in talking then listening

Your aim is listen as empathetically as possible when you are coaching or developing trust with the other person.  This is quite challenging to do all the time and exhausting so there isn’t an expectation that you should be doing this all the time, it’s unrealistic to expect that, but there will be times when listening empathetically will help you to improve relationships and provide a great coaching experience.

Discuss and debrief the assessment with the following questions:-

Q: What does this tell you about the way in which you listen?

Q: Does this identify situations where your listening style has prevented you from developing ownership in others?

Q: Which of these areas would you want to improve and why?

Q: What do you want to achieve from improving that situation?

Debrief and pull out any interesting learning points or observations you have made during the discussion.

Post-it notes x1 per pair



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