Role play and behavioural modelling

These methods are firmly based upon the psychological principles of imitation, guidance, feedback and reinforcement.

Moreover, they are engaging, effective ways of providing a safe environment for trainees to see ideal work behaviours and practise these for themselves. As a result, trainees have access to consistent and timely feedback, optimising their learning.

Role play is a tool that can be used to practise skills such as customer service, assertiveness and coaching, plus many others. Role play is also useful as a selection technique (ie in recruitment), as well as in training.

Behavioural modelling essentially involves closely observing and then copying another person’s behaviour.

For example, this can be done by showing a trainee a video of how a certain task should be done before trainees attempt the same task. The behaviour is imitated and the correct behaviour rewarded. This method uses the principles of learning of imitation of behaviour, guidance by the trainer and reinforcement of appropriate behaviour.

Your task

Below is an example of a customer service role play. What might a trainee learn from taking part in this role play?

Angry customer: You are a graduate trainee working in the customer relations team for a large retail firm. A customer has come in to speak to a member of staff to make a complaint. They are threatening to go to a consumer watchdog. Your objective is to resolve the issue with minimum financial and reputation damage to the company.

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This article is from the free online course:

Training and Development at Work: An Introduction

Coventry University