October 10th, 2013
The Problem with Role-Playing
Without laws to compel the prevention and correction of workplace bullying, organizations striving to ensure an abuse-free work environment are few and far between. The companies that do look for solutions are ahead of the curve.
That said, it is important that companies find the correct solutions. Training that centers on role-playing exercises do more harm than good.
We stumbled upon an example of the wrong way to train (keeping the source anonymous). Look at the following role-play exercises and see if you can can pinpoint the problem.
Role Play #1
Joe is a nurse who has worked at the facility for 15 years. Recently he and his wife of 30 years have separated and are filing for divorce. On every shift Joe sees his co-workers whispering behind his back. Rumors have started circulating about the circumstances surrounding the separation.
Role-play this situation and how Joe should act in these types of situations.
Role Play #2
Meg is a new housekeeping staff that started 2 weeks ago. She is often given the cold shoulder by the other staff members, who refuse to help her with any questions she asks; therefore, she is having award time “learning the ropes.” Other staff members also isolate and ignore her during breaks and lunch.
Role-play this situation and how Meg should act in these types of situations.
Did you catch it? In these scenarios the facilitators asks, “What should Joe do?” and “What should Meg do?” On top of being the target of ridicule, malicious rumors, isolation, and work sabotage, the company using this training now asks Joe and Meg, “What should you be doing differently?”
Another problem is that both cases show bullying by coworkers, which is much less common than bullying by managers (18% coworkers vs 72% bosses; WBI National Survey).
Bullying doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This is probably not the first incident of mistreatment Joe has experienced, and Meg is probably not the first new hire to be ostracized and set up for failure.
Role-playing reinforces the ideas that individual’s personalities drive abuse at work and that targets can stop bullying themselves. Worse still, it allows companies to abandon their own responsibility toward the people they employ while taking credit for solving the problem.
We need training to create and reinforce new norms in the workplace, not distract with games and comeback lines.
Check out Work Doctor for comprehensive solutions, custom policies, and in-depth training from experts that understand the phenomenon.
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 2:51 pm and is filed under WBI Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.