How to Use Role Play As a Training & Supervisory Tool

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Role-playing is a version of make-believe where the players put themselves in the mindset of characters and act out a scenario. Role-playing can also include games for young kids or video game players. In the business world, role-playing is used by supervisors to train new employees, or prepare experienced employees for circumstances they might encounter while out in the field. Having employees role-play various scenarios can help supervisors easily determine which employees are ready for the job, and which ones more training.

Set up a situation that the person you’re training will encounter. Start off with simple issues the role-player would encounter in an average day. If you are training employees for a job in sales, set up a normal presentation with the client and salesperson.

Set up a scenario that is unexpected, maybe your employee does not have the necessary tools, and must improvise, or maybe the customer or client he is dealing with is being less than cooperative.

Give the role-player time to react to the situation. Although in a work environment reaction times must be quick, give the role-player enough time to calmly analyze and react. Watch carefully how he acts so later you can point out his mistakes.

Resolve the initial problem and continue. Once you have played out all scenarios, provide feedback to the trainee letting him know about his strengths and weaknesses. Teach him how he should have reacted to the situation, or made a better decision.

Tips & Warnings

  • Role playing scenarios are one of the most useful tools for training employees to handle the most difficult on-the-job circumstances. You can add as many, or as few issues as you wish, depending on how you want to train the employee. Some scenarios will depend on stressful situations, simply so that the trainer can see how the role-player will deal with large amounts of pressure. Many training seminars will split all of the people being trained into small groups, and then have them role-play the scenario from different points of view. For example, one person plays the role of the position they’re being trained for as the other plays the client or supervisor. Role-playing like this allows trainees to come up with problems they think they might face in the field, and allows the trainer to supervisor better.

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