I often facilitate workshops that cover our Best-in-Class Coaching & Experience Engineering training materials, and a portion of each course is dedicated to role plays, giving participants a chance to practice the skills that are taught in an environment that’s safe and comfortable for learning.
But in nearly every workshop I conduct there is at least one pair of participants that hesitates, or in extreme cases, refuses to participate in role plays. And while I can appreciate that not everyone is thrilled by the prospect of doing role plays (or as some organizations call them, “’real’ plays”), I’m not sure there’s a better way to practice new skills than to try them out.
Is there a better way to practice new skills in the service world?
Certainly role plays have their flaws, among them the unnatural sound & flow of the conversation that usually occurs between two participants. But, what other way(s) can you afford practice for staff members that allow them to:
- make mistakes,
- learn from them, and,
- do so without negatively impacting anyone (e.g. customers, frontline reps, etc.)?
So why are some folks (even entire organizations) reluctant to use role plays in their service organizations? One thing I’ve heard in the past is that the name “role play” is the biggest deterrent, and that a simple name change to “practice” or something similar can help folks feel more at ease. Is that all it is, a simple lesson in semantics?
And another perceived downside to role plays is the inherent fear that many folks have about “performing” role plays for their peers and colleagues. I try to overcome this one by never requiring anyone to perform for the entire group.
So, or are there alternatives that create the same positive outcomes that role plays intend to generate?
Help me answer the question(s), loyal readers: Is role play the best way to practice new skills, and if not, what is? Cast your vote (and include your comments!) below.
Related CCC Resources:
Best-in-Class Coaching Practices
Experience Engineering Workshop
Personality Based Service