This subject can be difficult to talk about, so make sure you approach it with a sympathetic, open attitude.
Before you start, it is a good idea to set up some ground rules for the exercise:
a. The conversation should be about the culture in the workplace and must be kept on a general level.
b. It is not allowed to mention anyone by name or make anyone feel personally expose. That being said, concrete examples from day-to-day life are very welcome.
c. Any personal conflicts that may arise should be dealt with in privacy elsewhere with the presence of management.
- Draw five rooms, at least 2×2 meters, on the floor using rope or similar. It should resemble the floor plan of an apartment with adjoining rooms.
- Tell the participants that in Room 1, there is a well-functioning healthy office community. As you walk through the rooms, this community deteriorates. Room 5 represents an unhealthy office community.
- Spread out a Magnum Set on the floor next to the apartment and ask the participants to take turns choosing a picture, walk into Room 1 and say something that characterises a healthy office community. Stimulate the presentations by asking elaborating questions. Do not interrupt until all participants have been in Room 1. Afterwards, you ask them to “furnish” Room 1 by placing their cards in it.
- Then you ask the participants to choose another card that adds concrete value to one important concept from step 3. This may be tolerance, personal values, respect, trust, etc. – it’s up to you. When everyone has explained what that concept means to them, you ask them to furnish the rooms with their cards depending on how well they think the office community fulfil this principle. (The two outermost rooms will rarely be used here).
- Ask questions about the cards in the middle room: Some of you have placed cards in the middle room. Why are they not in Room 4? This way you take a positive, rather than a negative approach to the working environment.
- Ask the same kinds of questions about the cards in the other rooms and move the process along with questions like these:What will it take for us to move to a better room?Is there something, we can start doing right now?
What can we do if we notice things that affect the office community in a negative way?
- When you have discussed the various opinions and suggestions thoroughly and made sure that in the future both employees and management have something to work constructively with, you move all the cards from the rooms to the floor again. Then you introduce a new important concept and repeat step 4-6.
This exercise should result in a plan for implementing the important values and concepts that have emerged. Let the participants choose which values they find most important.
This exercise works best with 10-15 participants.