Improve Employee Skills With Realistic Simulations
The last year has brought a lot of changes for everybody due to COVID-19. Our home and social lives have been altered almost beyond recognition, but perhaps the biggest change has been to our working lives. Many of us are now working from home, attending hours of virtual meetings a day, and building relationships with colleagues remotely.
As we gradually get more comfortable with communicating online, there are still many situations that might feel more challenging when carried out remotely, such as dealing with difficult customers, giving employee feedback, or delivering presentations. In addition, as employees are starting to return to the office after months (or even over a year) of working from home, other communication skills vital to in-person communication may now be lacking.
In this article, we’ll look at how simulations can be a great learning tool to develop crucial employee communication skills, both when working remotely and from the office, through risk-free practice and feedback on their performance in the simulated environments.
1. Employees Can Practice The Skills Being Taught
Simulations are a fantastic way of creating the same environment that employees will encounter in their daily working life, both in-person and over video calls. This means that employees are able to practice different approaches to real-life situations in a safe and risk-free environment, allowing them to learn from mistakes and figure out what works best for them.
For example, learners can try multiple techniques for how to deliver a sales pitch online or how to defuse a difficult customer interaction, and see what sounds best, and what is most likely to work in their own field.
Example of a conference room simulation, where employees can practice giving a presentation and get feedback on their speech.
Employees may not feel confident about giving high-level sales pitches in real life, giving negative feedback to a colleague, or even delivering a presentation to a whole group of colleagues. With a simulation, they can practice as often as they require in order to feel comfortable and confident when these situations arise in their real daily life.
Simulation-based learning also gives employees a chance to practice more practical aspects of communicating, such as how they can best set up their workspace and utilizing storytelling techniques to enhance their messages. The low-pressure environment of simulations is a great way of building both skills and confidence and ensuring better overall performance in the workplace.
2. Employees Get Feedback On How They Are Doing
One of the best things about simulation-based learning is that employees are able to receive feedback on their performance as they work through the simulation, as well as after they’ve completed the experience. For example, if an employee is talking too fast, or if they are hesitating and using lots of filler words like “umm” and “ah.”
These are things that they may not notice themselves, but which are an important part of delivering successful presentations, clearly articulating what they want to say, and appearing more confident in front of a client or colleague.
Carrying on with the sales pitch example, you can provide your employees with keywords they should be using in their pitch, and check if they are using them correctly, and if they’re using them enough. All of these are essential when working in a sales role or a customer service environment.
Feedback can also include whether or not employees are able to answer the right questions, and are speaking in the right tone to diffuse situations or to create a higher level of engagement.
Example of a simulated Zoom call, where employees can practice delivering a presentation to a virtual audience.
This sort of feedback is especially useful for communicating virtually, as online platforms remove a lot of the easily readable body language cues we are used to during in-person interactions.
After practicing in simulations, when the real situation arises, employees should be equipped with all the right responses and feel confident about answering any unexpected questions that they might encounter during a pitch or presentation.
3. Simulations Can Easily Be Combined With eLearning
Simulations are the perfect way to practice knowledge in action. When combined with eLearning classes, they enable the employee to thoroughly learn about specific topics before they can practice displaying their knowledge using a simulation.
eLearning can encompass a range of business needs, and simulations can provide the roleplay or practice on-demand that is needed to hone skills. This means that an employee can take a course on a topic such as delivering presentations and then learn through experience by practicing what they have learned in simulated environments.
Example of an eLearning course with simulation practice at certain points throughout.
This provides a well-rounded learning experience and allows learners to receive feedback on how they are performing, and how much of the eLearning they have absorbed and are therefore likely to take into daily life.
This kind of consolidation of knowledge means that employees learn more effectively because they learn through experience and can immediately see how best to use their newfound learning in their job role.
Learning how to do things in a whole new way may feel difficult at first, but using simulations can help everyone gain a deeper understanding of how to deliver the same great performance online or in person.
In an increasingly hybrid working environment, knowing how to communicate in person and over digital communication platforms is a vital professional skill. When you give your employees the opportunity to learn, develop and practice these new skills, you will have a team who knows how to effectively communicate with ease in a range of different settings and work together for business success.
Whether you are office-based, remotely working, or enjoying a hybrid approach, greater communication means greater success for individuals, teams, and ultimately at an organizational level too!