Always and Never

Adult participants come to a training session with a wealth of background experience. In the area of diversity, for example, every participant has experiences with people from different cultures, races, nationalities, and age groups. The amount and type of such experiences will be different from one participant to another. In any group of participants, there is a lot to be learned from sharing and discussing their diverse experiences.

This phenomenon of relevant experiences is the basis for an interactive learning technique called structured sharing activities. Typical activities of this type create a context for a dialogue among the participants about their experiences, knowledge, and opinions. These activities are particularly effective for sharing the best practices among the participants.

Always and Never

We recently used a structured sharing activity to explore how a manager could make a diverse group of employees feel welcomed, provided with the equal opportunities, and encouraged to contribute fully to the organization.

Here are the steps that we followed in conducting this activity.

Briefing. Distribute a sheet of paper to each participant. Ask the participant to write the word Always on the top of one side of the paper and Never on the top of the other side. Explain what to write on these two sides of the paper. On the Always side, write a list of activities that an inclusive manager would frequently undertake (such as taking a person who is different from the others to lunch and attending multicultural events in the local community). On the Never side, write a list of things that an inclusive manager would avoid (such as using offensive terms that are related to race, religion, or sexual orientation or listening to jokes that make fun of a group).

Coordinate independent activity. Announce a suitable time limit and ask the participants to work independently and list as many appropriate activities on the two sides of the paper.

Coordinate partnership activity. Ask each participant to pair up with another person, exchange the lists, review the Always and Never items, and discuss them.

Coordinate teamwork. Ask the participants to form teams of three to seven people. Invite the members of each team to share the items from their lists and from the previous partner’s lists. Working collaboratively, instruct each team to prepare a poster with five effective suggestions for how to be an inclusive manager.

Coordinate poster displays. After a suitable time, ask the teams to stick their posters on the wall. Invite the participants to walk around the posters and review the items.

Conclude the activity. Ask each participant to select three items from different posters for implementation in his or her workplace in the near future.

How To Design Hundreds of Diversity Training Activities

You can use the structure of Always and Never as a template for designing other interactive exercises related to diversity and inclusion. Here are some personal skill areas that can be explored by asking the participants to list, share, and synthesize Always and Never behaviors:

  • Active listener
  • Clear communicator
  • Effective expatriate
  • Effective mediator of intercultural conflicts
  • Flexible intercultural communicator
  • Mindful observer
  • Open-minded international traveler
  • Person with a global identity

Always and Never is only one of several different structured sharing activities. You can search the website for detailed instructions for several other structure sharing activities such as these:

  • Envelopes
  • Group Scoop
  • One, Two, Four, …
  • Quick Scan
  • The Best and the Worst
  • Thirty-Five
  • Who and Why

There are several structured sharing activities and each of them can be used as a template to design several more activities related to different topics. Using this approach, you can effectively design hundreds of effective diversity training activities.

Get started on your first design.