For human resource professionals, effective listening and communication skills are integral to building, managing, and supporting staff. Training activities and games designed for human resource workers can reinforce these skills, which are necessary for an efficient HR team. Human resource training activities can be tailored to your industry by including industry-specific role playing activities,

Confrontation Activity

To practice strategies for conflict resolution, divide the training group into small teams, preferably of three. Describe to each team a confrontation scenario, such as a customer complaining about encountering a rude employee. In each group, have two people serve as the conflicting parties and have the third person represent the human resource officer. Teams must role-play their scenarios and decide on the most effective course of action. Then have the teams present their scenarios to the entire group. After the presentations, group members may ask questions or present other potential conflicts. Lead a discussion about which resolution strategies appeared to be the most consistently effective.

Playing by Different Rules

HR representatives must be aware of the potential conflict that diverse beliefs can create among employees. To train them in this area, divide the group into teams of four. Team members may not speak to each other or to other teams.

Give each team a standard deck of playing cards and a rule sheet. The basic rule states that each team member receives six playing cards. However, rules on scoring vary per sheet. For example, one team's rule sheet states that spades is the highest suit, while another team's sheet designates hearts as the highest suit. Each team should receive sheets with different scoring rules.

In a game of rounds using only the basic rule, have each team member take turns placing one card, face up, at the center of the table. The holder of the highest scoring card wins all the cards in that round. The players with the most cards at the end of the game win.

Next, allow the teams to play one round according to the scoring rules on their sheet. Then select two team members from each group to switch teams; teams must play a round without speaking to each other. Each team will be playing with two sets of scoring rules. After teams finish a round or give up, discuss with them how different sets of beliefs or rules can lead to confrontation and communication problems.

Positive Feedback Loop

Offering constructive criticism is key in managing a team. However, praise is also a valuable strategy. Sit the group in a circle. Give each group member a piece of paper. Each person writes his or her name at the top of the paper and then passes it to the left. Every member of the circle writes a positive statement about the person listed at the top of the page. Have them continue writing and passing the cards until all members get back their own card. Allow them to read the messages and then share with the group the most meaningful message on the card. Discuss the types of feedback that seemed the most valuable to people.

Constructing a Sandwich

HR representatives must be able to provide clear directions and specific feedback about behaviors and job performance. To practice skills of constructive criticism, select two volunteers from the group. One volunteer is designated as the sandwich maker; provide her with a plastic knife, a paper plate, a jar of jelly, a jar of peanut butter, and a loaf of sliced bread in a bag. The second volunteer is the instructor. The instructor stands with his bag to the sandwich maker so that he cannot see her actions. The instructor must provide step by step instructions to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sandwich maker can only perform the actions given by the instructor; she cannot make assumptions, rely on her own knowledge of sandwich making, or ask any clarifying questions.

After the instructor believes the sandwich is finished, the group assesses how well the task was completed. Frequently, an instructor will forget to provide simple directions like removing the caps from the jars or taking the bread out of the bag. Discuss with the group the ways that incorrect assumptions can impact job performance. Provide the instructor with feedback about ways to provide clear directions. Repeat the activity with a new set of volunteers until the sandwich is successfully completed.