First let’s clarify that ‘role play’ is not the same as ‘skill practice’.  Semantics you say?  We think not.  There is a huge difference between being handed a sheet of paper with some made-up scenario with a role you don’t recognize and now have to pretend to play and a scenario that is work-specific, you have created, and is based on a real-life situation you have to face.

We describe our practices as ‘skill practice’ because that’s what they are.  They are intended to be rehearsals so that participants can build competence and confidence before they use it back on the job.  That’s one of the reasons we think participants do eventually like practicing.  When it’s real, it has value to them.

In our practices each person tries on their own situation and gets immediate feedback.  They get specifics on what worked and are asked what they’d change.  They get it from the facilitator and from their peers.  This is another reason why practicing becomes such an important value to participants.  They can grow and apply what they learned immediately.  They sense how much better they are or can be when they use that feedback.

Also, as adults, we know intuitively that talking about something  is not the same as doing something.  We know that it separates the smart from the wise when you have to actually try it in your own words.  Because of this, what we learn when we practice sticks with us.  That’s why in feedback after feedback form “Practice” gets the most frequent and highest praise.  Even though they initially  say they don’t like it.

Here’s a tip for facilitators.  Never ask for permission to practice.  Make it a given.  They know what’s good for them!  How do you position practice with more senior and experienced participants?  Share your best practice here or tweet us @mohrretail.  In retail, every day is a chance to learn. MOHR!


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.