eSimulations

Teaching empathy at work requires an environment of self-discovery

While we are born with a capacity for empathy, developing this soft skill takes time and is influenced by those around us. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, seeing a problem or situation from outside of your own point of view. When we feel empathetic toward someone else’s problem or circumstances, we’re able to be compassionate, which is crucial for developing relationships. Without empathy, relationships will fail to thrive, both personal and professional. A Center for Creative Leadership study found that empathetic leaders are “viewed as better performers in their jobs by their bosses.” 

Teaching empathy at work has become a particularly urgent task for learning leaders across the spectrum of industries. We can do so with direct techniques designed to help learners take a more compassionate approach to interpersonal situations. We also have an opportunity to influence the overall culture by designing empathy into the learning experiences we create.

Can empathy at work be taught effectively?

We’re all familiar with lackluster training experiences that beat learners over the head with orders to embrace diversity and be kind. While these may have marginal success at changing behavior in specific situations, they’re rarely effective at building true empathy between all members of a team because they don’t dig deep into personal biases. While it’s true that old habits die hard and personal change requires deep commitment, it is possible to create a program that builds an overall empathetic mindset in learners. Doing so requires a more nuanced approach that allows people to get deep into complex situations without straightforward solutions.

Empathy at work can be taught effectively if it’s approached in a way that invites robust dialog and enables learners to see past their existing beliefs. We all have biases, which developed over many years via our personal experiences, the media, and the people with whom we surround ourselves. Biases can negatively impact our ability to empathize. The most powerful antidote for bias is to see a situation from someone else’s point of view. Being aware of how others may view situations, actively listening to teammates, and engaging in conversation with people from diverse backgrounds can aid in developing empathy, inclusivity, and understanding in the workplace. In a training simulation, we can create an environment that enables learners to overcome their biases. Because biases are often deeply rooted, an effective training simulation must invite self-discovery, in which learners are provided with a safe environment to uncover and work through their biases (rather than didactic instruction on what they should do).

ExperienceBUILDERTM simulations foster empathy by putting learners into situations where there is no clear right or wrong answer (much like the problems learners are working through daily on the job). In an ExperienceBUILDER simulation, teams collaborate to find a solution that will impact a range of metrics, such as overall productivity, profitability, employee engagement, team health, and progress toward a goal. The team receives real-time feedback as their score meters change, and they must balance business needs with other priorities. Just like real-life situations, that balance is key. Sometimes one meter may go up while others go down. Working together as a team enables all learners to talk through the options, balance the pros and cons, and find a solution that checks as many possible positive boxes with minimal sacrifice. In the process, they can see how biases are affecting overall performance, and perhaps even begin to unravel their own closely held beliefs.

Why is empathy important in the workplace?

Studies support the business value of empathy and emotional intelligence. For example, healthcare professionals who show empathy toward their patients tend to see the patients adhere better to their treatments, thus resulting in better health outcomes. Empathy involves listening, understanding the emotions of another person, and responding accordingly. While many workplaces have long struggled with a lack of empathy, the events of the past two years have shone a spotlight on how critical empathy is to productive collaboration and business success. In a world of shifting work environments, labor shortages, and ever-changing business needs, leaders and contributors at all levels must be able to empathize with their colleagues in order to be successful. 

Training people to be more empathetic is possible with an immersive, discovery-based approach. ExperienceBUILDER simulations can help to guide individuals into meaningful conversations, solve complex interpersonal situations, uncover biases and judgment, and improve inclusion efforts for a diverse workforce. Ready to learn more? Contact us to schedule a consultation.

eSimulations: Has Live Role-Play Met Its Match?

It’s a common belief that, for all of their plusses, the big minus with eSimulations is their inability to discern nonverbal communication. And with research showing the significant role tone of voice and body language play in human communication, that’s a very big minus.esims-more-effective

Recent advances, however, have changed that. In fact, for many applications, today’s eSimulations are more effective than live role-play on every level. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Level 4 eSimulations (using a rules-based gaming engine) are extremely realistic. Now that developers can create hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of video-based nodes, eSimulations can accurately reflect small changes in tone and body language. Throw in the use of voice recognition, and you have an unparalleled user experience!
  • eSimulations deliver a consistent experience for every user. Notice that I didn’t say the same That wouldn’t be accurate because, in theory, depending on the number of nodes, hundreds could face the same choices and have the same opportunities, but because of the decisions they make, have a completely unique experience. eSimulations eliminate the variability inherent in a live human role-player and can be scored in such a way that they eliminate rater (coach) bias as well.
  • eSimulations can provide significantly more practice opportunities than classroom-based live-role play. For each live role-play, you need to engage two people and optimally three, who often then rotate roles. In the same or less time, all three people could accomplish three rounds of practice each, and probably more, through eSimulation.

That said, eSimulations still aren’t for everyone – primarily because of price. While development costs have dropped dramatically as developers have improved processes and tools, the relative value of this technology is still dictated by the volume of users who can benefit. While some off-the-shelf solutions can serve small numbers of users cost effectively, custom applications typically need an audience of 100 or more users to be cost effective.

I invite you to contact us to learn about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

Making the Grade with Simulations

Although once reserved for the business school environment, team-based simulations have earned their rightful place in the training curriculums of learning organizations worldwide during the past decade. And the reasons are plenty:

  1. They facilitate team-building.
  2. They provide a quick and effective means to assess students’ strengths and weaknesses.
  3. They’re fun and engaging.
  4. They’re an outlet for extremely competitive students.
  5. They teach practical application of a broad range of skills such as business strategy and finance, project management, brand management, leadership, market strategy, sales strategy and trust.

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Proof positive

The Wharton School of Business presented a case on the effectiveness of team-based activities run remotely — either synchronously or asynchronously — at ATD’s National Conference a few years back.

Wharton’s experience with its Executive MBA Program was that, in addition to significantly reducing travel time and cost, learners retained more and were more productive when they had more time between sessions to digest and apply information.

The typical design approach incorporated a series of individual and group exercises that included podcasts, webinars, white papers, remote office hours and a remote group activity followed by a capstone live classroom experience. A far cry from when distance learning meant PowerPoint presentations via webinar.

One of Blueline’s popular simulations is Abilitie’s Business Challenge, a web-based multiplayer simulation in which participants take the helm of a virtual business and compete for market leadership. The simulation is set up and debriefed remotely via webinar. At the client’s option, the simulation can be supplemented with a series of case-based elearning modules called Fluent in Finance. The modules present a unique combination of elearning, simulation and virtual classroom experiences.

I invite you to contact us to learn more about any of our custom classroom simulations, Blueline Blueprint™ learning visuals or other innovative delivery methods that have been generating notable business results in leading organizations worldwide for more than 13 years.

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Dale Olsen’s latest book explores the practices that differentiate today’s top sales professionals. But acquiring knowledge of these breakthrough techniques is just the beginning. How are you going to quickly and effectively build the skills needed to consistently apply these practices? Click to determine whether your organization is ready to embrace this new sales model, and to take advantage of the transformative learning tools that deliver on its promise.

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Does Your Training Help People Fail? We call it Failing Forward.

No one likes to fail, but everyone should. Research shows learners remember better and for far longer when they don’t immediately get the correct answer, in other words — when they fail first. “Failing” creates a stronger emotional response to the material causing more retention. Blueline has 4 guidelines to follow to help you design activities that provide the opportunity for your learners to fail forward and make each of your training session more successful. Click here to read the full blog: Does Your Training Help People Fail?

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