Yesterday in a session, two participants were asked to be a part of what we call a ‘modeled’ practice. That’s where the facilitator arranges for two folks to rehearse their real-life situations using our approach in front of a larger group to demonstrate how to make small group practices richer and more valuable. There is a process with our own jargon but essentially the situation is one they have chosen to practice.
All of our programs teach a set of interpersonal skills, whether they be for selling, managing, managing at a distance, supervising support departments, or negotiating. First, we teach the skills outside of any specific situation; one at a time, usually using retail video and written exercises. We do this to help participants understand the value of each skill and how to use them.
Then, we ask them to apply all of those skills along with a unique strategy that has specific steps for that situation. Combining the two elements, skills and strategy steps, is typically a new behavior and one that becomes part of someone’s management or selling or negoatiation skill set after they try it on several times. We don’t just let folks come up front and ‘role-play’, oh no, that wouldn’t really meet the objective of having a rich practice or even one that helped people be successful at using these elements they just learned. We use a Practice Guide. Someone who looks out for effective skill use and interjects coaching along the way to ensure that the ‘leader’ applies this new learning in the best possible way for maximum impact. This is where aha moments come in.
In one of these practices yesterday, a retail DM, from a highly branded retailer, someone you’d recognize from a block away, was leading a discussion about below-standard performance of a Store Manager. Right in the middle of the practice, while they were being coached to use BOTH the core Communication Skills ALONG with the discussion steps, got it.
After the practice he said, my folks are passionate about our product and brand. The skills helped me stay connected to them by empathizing and engaging the manager in the conversation. The steps of the strategy though, made sure I got something done; achieved my goal of improving the manager’s performance. They’re both important but I don’t usually use both elements.
Yes, we layer in motivational theory, embed emotional-rational pairing, integrate whole brain thinking into all of our training. We just don’t call it that and sometimes it still shines through. That’s when we know we’ve added value and insight that will change behavior and ultimately create measurable results. Today was a good day.
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