Roleplay

By Randy Sabourin

workshop old

Traditional learning wisdom tells us that if we need to educate or train a large amount of individuals, we gather them in a classroom or workshop with a teacher teaching and students learning. This process has not served us as well as it did Socrates, who had Aristotle and his peers search for the answers through group discussion and debate. The model of a single teacher educating a group of those eager to learn remains as the foundation for our educational system. This approach works well because students are truly learning new content and the teachers are more knowledgeable. When we graduate to a corporate learning environment we encounter a very similar delivery process. Participants experience a combination of ‘one to many’ workshops and webinars. This ‘one to many’ approach still rings true in a corporate setting economically until costs associated with travel and lost opportunities mount. Research reveals further challenges with the model:   learners only retain 15% to 20% of the knowledge provided during these group setting learning assemblies.

The solution to higher education is recognized throughout almost every profession as ‘one to one’ coaching, which helps transform knowledge into skills through individual attention and adaptation. A coach directs practice to specific areas and motivates the learner to achieve new heights. In the sporting or corporate learning world, the costs associated with this ‘one to one’ approach restrict its application to a select few.

We recently conducted work for a client that challenged the economic model that prevents ‘one to one’ coaching and new learning from working side by side. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jason Mitchell

As a sales training professional with a performing arts background, one of the biggest hurdles I have to overcome when I explain what I do to potential clients usually sounds something like this:   “How can a bunch of actors teach me anything about sales?”   Clients come to us at e-roleplay when they are looking for innovative and effective training solutions, where the learning in which they invest is sustained and actually sticks when their employees get back into the field.  Our incredible team of professional roleplayer/coaches all have backgrounds in the performing arts–whether that’s live theatre, improvisation, stand-up comedy or something else altogether. It is precisely because of these backgrounds that our roleplayers are ideally suited for training and coaching work.  Let me use one experience of mine as a starting point.

Iaction!’m in one of those large, banquet-style hotel meeting rooms that anyone who has been to their company’s annual meeting or a sales retreat can picture. I’m sitting across the linen-covered, round table from a Sales Rep, whom I will call Jim.  We have just finished roleplaying a scenario in which I was a small business owner and Jim was trying to sell me his product while integrating his company’s new branding approach.  I give him some feedback about not pushing so hard on solutions and about asking me some clarifying questions to find out why I chose a particular business model, noting how this will help him tailor the branding piece to me so as not to sound scripted or robotic.  He takes a long pause and stares at me, finally saying,  “Have you ever been in sales?” I have to admit that I break out in a bit of a sweat for a moment, and then decide honesty is the best policy. “No, I haven’t,” I say.  “I’ve been in involved in sales training for almost 10 years, but my background is in acting and I’ve been a customer all my life.  All I can tell you, Jim,  is that when you said my business plan is totally wrong and didn’t make any sense, and then pushed hard on how I should change my business, I felt defensive and I immediately stopped listening to you.”  I explain further that I had an emotional response to his statement that immediately, and perhaps permanently, affected how I felt about buying from him.  He seems mollified by this clarification, and admits some validity to my point: that attacking the rationale of my small business plan was not going to convince me to buy from him, even if he was right.   I didn’t need years of sales experience or an MBA to know how I felt in the moment. This is at the heart of what e-roleplay does. We use actors to portray realistic characters for the purpose of practicing a desired skill set and then provide coaching on that skill set.   This has an obvious benefit in terms of realistic improvisation, and there are many other key benefits that make using coaches with an acting background a great choice for roleplaying and coaching in sales training. Read the rest of this entry »

by Randy Sabourin

Practice makes perfect.

We have all heard the adage before: it takes time, practice, repetition, exploration, mistakes and successes to master a new skill. Perfect, though, is a rather lofty goal..

“When I was in school the teachers told me practice makes perfect; then they told me nobody’s perfect so I stopped practicing.”   Comedian – Steve Wright

So let’s say practice makes better or perhaps practice makes permanent.

Let’s explore how we generally acquire new business skills. Consider training a large group of sales people on objection handling and cross-selling and their managers on coaching to the new process. Usually the Corporate Learning and Development (L&D) team designs or purchases the training material, which is then incorporated into a workshop and perhaps an e-learning module. The participants are assembled; flights, hotels, venues are booked, and workshops are attended. The feedback from the workshops is outstanding, the e-learning scores are magnificent, and everyone is happy. Mission accomplished. If they were lucky, the Managers received an extra day of training regarding their responsibility to sustain the new sales process through coaching. While this process varies depending on the size of the organization and the commitment to the learning, this approach has been the norm for decades.

The real test of the training is whether the participants change their behavior in the field. If the way to measure ‘lift’ (a change in behavior and results) was part of the design process a key question is whether the Manager will have the skills to recognize any lack of change and then have time to coach to it. Usually, a few months go by and a small percentage of people are using the new content while Managers go back to focusing on their jobs with little time to coach. The status quo wins out and the L&D team goes back to the drawing board to design an even better training and coaching program for next year. Fingers point in both directions and the L&D budget is in jeopardy again next year with little or no evidence of return on training dollars invested. Read the rest of this entry »

by Cameron O. Anderson

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – PART 2: How to Increase the Return on Training Dollars Invested through Knowledge Retention and Learning Sustainmen

Since corporate training began, Learning and Development professionals have strived to determine the ROI on training programs. While the REACTION level (Kirkpatrick, Evaluating Training Programs, 3rd Edition, 2006) or “smile sheets” administered during or post program are often very positive, the final three levels (ACTUAL LEARNING, BEHAVIOR CHANGE AND BUSINESS RESULTS) are traditionally more difficult to measure. As you saw in Part 1 of this article, the reinforcement and coaching of what is taught in a training program is frequently left to overworked managers so the sustainment and ROI of the training is often also low. While good internal coaching definitely has a positive impact on changing behaviors and business results, the consistency of the follow up coaching is what is being examined around the training world.

So if coaching is the key to sustainment and internal coaching is often hit or miss, what is the solution? TELEPHONE ROLEPLAY!!!

For 13 years e-roleplay has been successfully reinforcing training programs for major corporations around the globe using professional actors who are also certified coaches. The key requirement that our clients have in common is a desire to gauge the results of their training, both quantitative and qualitative.

Let’s talk about quantitative results first. Return on Training Dollars Invested (ROTDI) can be measured in multiple ways and our clients have used almost every conceivable metric to do it. Quantitative measurements can be divided into two types: financial-based and skills-based. Read the rest of this entry »

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