Why We Will Never Ask You To Role-Play

Many people in retail have heard the dreaded phrase “We are going to do some role play on this skill.” It usually means that you and your boss are going to do a silly skit in front of your coworkers, showcasing a sale. This devolves into uncomfortable giggling while inside jokes are being thrown around. When you think back to those events, how much information was learned? Did anyone get to practice a new skill? Did that role play positively impact sales or the behaviors of staff? Probably not. This is the exact reason that we, at the Mann Group, do simulation training, not role-playing.


What’s the difference? 


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, one of the definitions of simulation is “a model of real activity, created for training purposes or to solve a problem.” A simulation models a real-life situation to teach something. This means there should not be any inside jokes or silliness. It should be focused and intentional. When we do simulations, they are specific to one skill that we are trying to teach, with as close to a real example as possible, and it takes just a moment out of a sales process rather than an entire sale. To explain this, I want to consider soccer and how we learn to play. 


In practice, the coach has each person practicing dribbling, passing, or shooting, but not all at once. The reason is to hone that particular skill and see improvement. They don’t practice by having daily scrimmage games that take up all the practice time. If they did it that way, the players would improve their skills. Not to mention, it becomes far more difficult for the coach to call out individual actions that players did to grow their skills.


Simulations are created to improve a specific skill with a coach to give feedback. The foundation of ORBiT is to put trainees into simulations where they can see the behaviors from the perspective of a customer and then get the opportunity to practice in those same scenarios. 


So the next time you go to teach a skill, remember, “This is not a role play, I am trying to improve the skills of my staff. I will set up clear and short simulations and get my point across.” If you remember that, your simulations will be far more effective. 


Great Mann Group content, right to your inbox.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.