Implementing Role Practice – A 24 second Why to and How to Guide for Business

A friend of mine asked me a question the other day:

What are the most important things you’ve implemented in your business?

It got me thinking…

So I’m starting a series of posts to answer the question. For the time being, I won’t put an order of importance on them but that might come later. This is the first.

Implementation Series – Post #1 – Role Practice

24 second summary:

Why to:

At a MINIMUM, Role Practice helps you and your staff improve: confidence in challenging situations, consistency in approach & knowledge sharing.

How to:

  1. Choose 3 people to play three roles: Salesperson, prospect, observer
  2. Choose a scenario and act it out (change roles/scenarios regularly)
  3. Everyone gives feedback on performance
  4. Practice 15 – 30 mins daily
  5. Apply it to all aspects of your business: customer service, HR, networking etc.

Resources:

Bluewire Media – Scenarios for Role Practice (PDF 100KB)

Details:

Jack Daly
Jack Daly

The back story:

“Role practice” sounds a bit funny because it’s a mixture of words.

Role play + practice = role practice.

Adam and I were introduced to the concept at a seminar by Jack Daly – a sales coach from the US. The idea behind role practice rather than role play, is to get better each and every time. All skills require practice to get improvements and that was why Jack distinguished the two.

You can check 2 quick video interviews with Jack on our Bluewire Media blog: 4 gigs from facebook; #1 sales tip.

[Aside: I liked the “game” of his tagline: “If you think you know sales, you haven’t met Jack!”]

Chet Holmes – another sales guru – was really big on it in his book too: The Ultimate Sales Machine.

What is Role Practice?

It’s a group exercise to practice sales, customer service, HR or any other situations that you and your staff have to face.

How to run a Role Practice session:

I’ll use sales as an example.

Firstly pick a group of 3 people (2 is sufficient though) to participate in the following roles:

  1. Sales person
  2. Prospect
  3. Observer – to offer feedback to person 1. Often they learn the most from a session.

(If you only have 2 people, then the “Prospect” can also act as the “Observer”. If you have 4 people, you can have 2 Observers.)

Then choose a topic (eg initial consultation, sales phone call etc) and everyone plays their part.

Over time, you can throw as many curve balls as you like to increase the difficulty of the scenario.

Learning:

The best way to evaluate is to ask the sales person to assess their own performance based on 3 questions:

  • What do you think you did well?
  • What do you think could be improved?
  • What do you think you’d do differently next time?

Then ask the Prospect and Observer roles for their feedback based on these questions too.

How can you implement this?

Here’s how we did it:

  1. Made a Bluewire Media – Scenarios for Role Practice (PDF 100KB) that we need to practice and stuck it on the office wall.
  2. Choose 1 topic each Monday at our Weekly Meeting.
  3. Role practice daily from Tuesday – Friday (15 – 30 mins after our 9:05am Daily Huddle).

[Aside: The 9:05am Daily Huddle and Weekly Meeting routines is an idea from Verne Harnish – I’ll definitely be covering this in a later post in this series]

I’d also really recommend applying this not only to your sales process but to your customer service process – or in fact any other part of your business where staff face difficult situations.

We’ve applied it to:

  • Answering angry phone calls from clients
  • Sales calls
  • Initial consultations
  • Chairing meetings (slight tweak – we ask the questions after they have chaired an internal meeting – eg the Weekly)
  • Networking at a Bluewire Media event
  • Lots of others: see full list

Results:

  1. Massive confidence boost for all of us in situations we find challenging (which will be different for each person)
  2. Consistency in approach to customer service
  3. Knowledge sharing among staff for best practice

My favourite part? It’s simple to start.

4 key leadership learnings from “Multipliers” (by Liz Wiseman)

Multipliers - Liz Wiseman
The premise of Multipliers written by Liz Wiseman, is that any leader can be placed on a spectrum between being a Multiplier (good) and being a Diminisher (bad). (If you’re interested in finding out your style, try this questionnaire.)

What is a Multiplier?

“A leader who uses their smarts to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them”.

What is a Diminisher?

“A leader who drains intelligence, energy and capability from the ones around them and always needs to be the smartest one in the room”.

The book aims to help us move away from a Diminisher style of leadership towards the style of a Multiplier, stating that there is at least a 2x greater return on resources for Multipliers vs Diminishers.

It outlines the 5 different roles that a Multiplier plays:

  1. The Talent Magnet – looks for talent everywhere, finds people’s native genius, utilises people to their fullest, and removes blockers (eg prima donnas)
  2. The Liberator – creates space (to think, speak, and act), demands the best work and generates rapid learning cycles
  3. The Challenger – seeds the opportunity, lays down the challenge, then generates belief in what is possible
  4. The Debate Maker – frames the issue, sparks the debate and drives a sound decision
  5. The Investor – defines ownership, invests resources and holds people accountable

These 5 roles are what the book calls the Multiplier Formula. What makes it a great “how to” book are the chapter summaries of these roles to be used as a quick reference once you’ve finished reading (or if you don’t have time to read the whole thing!).

I dog eared some pages (sorry book lovers) as I read, so I could keep track of the things that really resonated with me.

Here are 4 of them:

1. Ask questions

A Multiplier asks questions constantly. Then listens intently. They listen far more than they speak. I’ve heard this plenty of times before, but it’s great to have it reinforced. (I’m going to start counting my questions in meetings from now on.)

2. Native genius

Multipliers go looking for native genius in everyone around them. I loved this concept! (On page 61, there are 3 steps to help you begin genius watching too). What’s more it really aligns beautifully with what we’re trying to do at Bluewire Media – which is “Do what you love”.

A native genius is something that people do, not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. They do it easily (without extra effort) and freely (without condition)…They get results that are head-and-shoulders above others but they do it without breaking a sweat.

3. “Calmness is not synonymous with softness”

Multipliers remain calm even when under pressure, but are intensely focussed. They create environments that are intense not tense.

4. Make your own mistakes known

There’s a great example in the book of a weekly meeting agenda item called “The Weekly Screw-up”. If you as the leader share your mistakes, then others will be far more willing to share theirs. As a result you’ll breed a culture of transparency where mistakes are not punished but learned from. We’ve just added this to our weekly meeting agenda so I’m looking forward to watching the results.

In summary: This really is a good book in an excellent “How To” format. Plenty of case studies and stories to drive home the points and the chapter summaries will be great quick reference tools.

Have you read it? If so, what did you like about it? What were the things you found most interesting/applicable?