3 Benefits of Making Role-Play Part of Training

Role-playing provides a safe environment to encounter different scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles.

Role-play long has been a common training method among military branches, emergency response groups, and companies where quick decision-making is highly valued. So why not in the world of business training?

Over the last few years, it seems role-play has been incorporated more often in business training curricula, and for good reason. For example, sales teams that continually engage in role-playing are more likely to outperform their non-role-playing competitors.

Benefits of Role-Play

Here are just a few of the benefits of making role-play a part of your business training:

  1. Build confidence: When your team role-plays, you can throw any number of situations at them. Role-playing provides a safe environment to encounter these scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles.
  2. Develop listening skills: Good role-playing requires good listening skills. In addition to understanding the words the other person is saying, it’s important to pay attention to body language and non-verbal clues. Better to have your team develop these skills while role-playing than when they’re trying to perform in the real world.
  3. Creative problem-solving: No matter how outlandish a situation you create in a controlled environment, generally, something even more bizarre is bound to happen on the job. Role-playing will at least give your team the chance to get some experience in handling difficult situations and in developing creative problem-solving skills.

How to Start Role-Playing

While some organizations prefer to hire a professional facilitator for the most effective role-play, here are a few tips for doing it yourself:

  • Use actual locations: The best role-play is as realistic as possible. Put participants in the physical locations where they actually would experience the scenarios you’re trying to replicate, whether that’s the boardroom, the warehouse, or an executive’s office.
  • Videotape your role-play: Videotaping the participants in role-playing scenarios is a valuable teaching tool. It allows people to see themselves—and their strengths and weaknesses, which can be quite powerful. It also allows them (and you) to “record” improvement as they progress.
  • Imitate real-world scenarios: This is perhaps one of the easiest forms of role-play training to execute yourself. Give the “customers” or “clients” a personality profile and list of objectives that the trainee doesn’t know about. Make the goal to determine the “customer’s” objectives.
  • Hire consultants and actors: Getting an authentic role-play experience from your team may be difficult to do on your own. Bring in consultants and professional actors to get the training your team deserves.

Use these tips to try role-play with your team during your next training session.

John Buelow is the executive vice president of Program Design and Delivery at the Shapiro Negotiations Institute, a global performance improvement firm focused in the areas of sales, negotiation, and influencing. He is a master facilitator and has collaborated with Fortune 500 companies worldwide in the pharmaceutical, financial, entertainment, and professional services industries to deliver training on negotiations, sales optimization, and influence. Buelow is on the Advisory Board and adjunct faculty at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he teaches and advises graduate students pursuing careers in ISD and training delivery.  For more information, visit http://www.shapironegotiations.com.

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