Ice breakers for DiSC and other training

Ice breakers for DiSC and other training

We know that many of you use the QuikDiSC cards as an opening ice breaker, but we have other options for you, too. We’ve divided them into times when they are most productive.

When the group knows their DiSC styles

Your organization has an on-boarding program that used Everything DiSC Workplace and everyone in the organization is familiar with DiSC. Now you are about to introduce Everything DiSC Work of Leaders to a group of emerging leaders and you want to get everyone thinking about their DiSC style.

My priorities exercise

Hello my need is RESULTS tagSince you know the styles of each participant, you can assign them to seating so their styles are mixed at each table. Before they arrive, place a few Everything DiSC Needs Magnetic Tags at each table.  Choose a good representation of styles among the tags. As people arrive, ask them to select and wear the tag that best matches their “need” today.

After everyone has arrived, ask participants to share with their tables why they choose the tag they are wearing. After allowing a few minutes for this, you can unveil an Everything DiSC poster. (Enlarge and print the page from a group or facilitator report.) Ask participants to note if they choose a priority typical of their style and allow for a bit more chatter at the tables. You can use this activity as an opportunity to remind participants that DiSC is not about locking them into a style. It’s about being able to flex into the styles necessary for the situation. (This can lead you to looking at the Strategies to Increase Your Effectiveness pages in Workplace, or similar pages in the other profiles.)

If you have additional time, ask participants to go around their table and take turns talking about how their need might manifest itself during today’s training. For example, a person who chose “Results” might say that they’ll probably start fidgeting if they don’t see the point of something. A person who chose “Coffee” might admit that he gets nervous at events like this and needs a prop for his hands.

Another option is to have participants talk about how the need they chose influenced an action they took today. A person who chose “Enthusiasm” might have chosen a bright yellow blouse to wear. A person who chose “Stability” might have made sure to call her mother to remind that she is to pick up the kids after school today.

When you want to make it feel safer to be vulnerable

Simple object exercise

Sharing something about ourselves can be hard for some, especially if there is a lack of trust within the group. Making the sharing less concrete and more playful can help. This can be a good exercise before beginning a Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team session on Trust.

Bring in a set of objects for each table or grouping you’ll arrange for participants. The objects can be a group of small children’s books or toys, a set of action figures, antique buttons, or just about anything. You begin by sharing why you choose the sets you did or why you even have access to these sets.

Ask each person to select an item, hold it, and explain what drew them to it. They can be as detailed or as guarded as they like. After speaking they return the object to the set and the next person makes a selection and speaks. Leave the sets on the table for people to fiddle with or look at during the session.

Listen for how people respond because it will give you clues as to what kind of support they will need in this session. You might note that one person seems very shy and you might choose to stand nearer to him during your next exercise. Or you might notice someone goes on and on about why she chose the object in her hand. For that person you might want to think about how you will keep the session moving when she starts to ramble on.

Sometimes people will want to touch the object a more powerful person chose. Or one person will want to talk more about their chosen object during a session break. Or they want to examine the object chosen by the person they least understand at their table. For some it gives them something to play with instead of clicking their pens. (So make sure the objects you bring don’t make sounds.)

Getting assumptions on the table

I agree poster

This can be a good exercise to use if you need to get people back on their feet after lunch or a break.

Prepare a poster with several statements, cliches or assumptions about the topic you’re exploring. Use what you know about the group to create the poster. It might be something like this:

Great leaders …

  • are born, not made.
  • are created by necessity.
  • must know how to command and direct others.
  • can be found anywhere.
  • develop others.
  • have extensive education.
  • have a vision.
  • are experts in their field.
  • need to listen more.
  • are creative.

Ask participants to vote on what they agree with. They can use their own pens or you can provide markers or dot labels. Use the top ranked item to begin your discussion or as a way to lead into your program. For example, if you used this for an Everything DiSC Work of Leader’s session, you could begin talking about the necessity for a strong vision or showing a slide with a quote about a leader’s need for a strong vision.

The best manager/mentor/leader I’ve ever worked with

To get people talking about what makes a great leader, sales professional, manager, or coach ask people to stand up and give someone credit for being a great example.

Place a poster in front of the room with a statement like “The best manager I ever had was …” and ask people to get up and write down a name. Let people interpret the title you used very broadly. If someone is new to the world of work, let them name a coach, teacher, or group leader, for example.

After everyone has named someone, ask people to list off qualities of the person they named. Write down these qualities on another poster. Allow time for people to discuss the list of qualities they came up with.

Use that list to lead into your next activity. For example, if you’re running a leadership program you might want to take different colored markers and circle the traits that could be used to describe each of the 8 leadership dimension as detailed in The 8 Dimensions of Leadership.

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