Learn Through Play

our blog

The 1 Thing Your Manager Training Program Is Missing

You’ve interviewed your audience, assessed organizational needs, and established metrics for success. The curriculum is complete, the dates are set, and the trainers are well-prepared. You are confident that you have created an exceptional manager training program.

But is it Fun?

Why Does Fun Matter?

In 2022, researchers from “The Fun Theory” transformed a subway staircase into a working piano. Over a short period of time, 66% more people chose to take the stairs instead of using the escalator. What does that have to do with manager training? Learning and applying new skills can be challenging. It can feel like a “walk up the stairs” for managers to attend lengthy training programs, let alone apply their learning to work. But what happens when we make learning fun?

At Ziksana, we’ve spent 12 years exploring this question. Both data we’ve collected and an ever-growing body of research has demonstrated that there are multiple benefits to providing managers with fun learning environments.

Increasing Engagement and Motivation

When it comes to learning new skills, motivation matters. Play is the highest form of intrinsic motivation, and when managers genuinely enjoy the learning experience, they are more likely to engage with the content. Many of our program participants request more learning experiences simply because they had fun!

Accelerating Connection

One of our favorite quotes is that “laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Adding playful elements to manager training programs accelerates connection through shared experiences. Having a socially connected learning environment makes it safer for managers to take risks, share challenges, and learn from one another. Additionally, a sense of connection is especially valuable in manager training programs because it enables better cross-functional collaboration.

Fostering Openness to Learning

One of the key findings from our research is that a playful approach accelerates managers’ openness to learning something new. Engaging in fun, playful activities gets managers out of their heads and into a positive emotional state that supports learning with an open mindset. Additionally, play helps increase psychological safety, making it safer for managers to take risks and actually practice the new skills.

How to Incorporate Fun in Manager Training

We believe that the most effective way to incorporate fun in manager training programs is to connect playful activities to learning outcomes. In order to get the most out of playful activities, participants need to understand how it relates to the content or skills they’re learning. For example, we teach managers a skill called Appreciative Listening through a series of fun improv games that highlight best practices such as being present, reading body language, and saying “yes…and” to other people’s ideas. By helping participants make a connection between the fun activities and content, we reduce skepticism while teaching practical leadership skills.

While it may seem like a “nice to have” in manager training programs, we think fun is a “must have” that enables better outcomes for managers and organizations. Over 90% of our participants consistently agree that our playful training approach helps them stay engaged, makes it safe to try new skills, and accelerates their openness to learning something new.

Looking for a training program that managers will actually want to attend? Check out EMPOWER, our comprehensive training program that makes it fun for managers to learn foundational leadership skills.

Leave a Reply


Let's Play!

Questions about our services? Looking for a custom solution? We’d love to hear from you!

Ziksana logo






3692 Fifth Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
Schedule your free 30 minute consultation. Get started.

get in touch

A group of two women and two men stacking hands with excitement. With text bubble in left corner saying let's play.