Immerse yourself in learning
Updated: Jul 25
I have been using the "Escape Room" as a means of team training and recruitment for a number of years now. Teams are 'locked' in a room and have to work together to escape. The game is mastered through CCTV with hints coming as needed, and the experience provides an unpredictable, uncontrollable, and highly enjoyable team event. I sit with the gamesmaster and give feedback on the teams' performance, using (with permission) the recorded CCTV to spark discussion when availble. I am the only CPD accredited training provider of this style of training, I have a portable "tabletop" version for conferences or workshops (hosting up to 80 players at one time - see video), and my training is licensed to MISSION ACCEPTED in Berlin and MYSTERY ROOMS in Munich, Essen, Frankfurt and Interlaken.
Now it seems that many people have seen the benefits with "Honest Burgers" offering an escape room as part of their interview process, and no escape room website being complete without a tab for "corporate" on their menu.
But before escape rooms became fashionable, I was always advocate for experiential learning. Like any "health professional" if I can see your symptoms, it's much easier to provide support and development. As such I work with professional actors to deliver skills practice sessions - one of my favourites is our "Hotel" to teach customer service (see video).
Another classic of mine is using aerobics to teach "leadership" - after all I can tell you that it's important to "match and pace before you change", or "communicate clearly from the point of view of the team", or "motivate motivate motivate"...or I can get you up in front of a class and let you reflect on what worked!
Now I'm not one of those trainers that does this "because it's fun". Of course it IS fun, but it is one of the best ways to get you to practice, reflect and offer help from the most accurate starting point. If you just talk to me, we're only as good as your description and my interpretation (although of course I offer coaching as well - often as a follow up to my workshops), or if I just talk at you, I'm not giving you the chance to have a go...to see if you actually can do (and want to do) what I suggest...and if you do - then you have the confidence that you've tried it once.
Many professions are seeing the value of simulations or "in situ trials" - so why should this not extend to training.
A word of warning however, not all trainers know how to do it...I have say through some terrible "interactive" sessions where the first ice breaker has been "Let's all put a shoe in the middle and guess who it belongs to" - putting keys in a bowl wouldn't have been more inappropriate! Then you have the other side of the spectrum where "interactive" means "write on filp charts" (or post-its for variation).
So here are some tips if you are going to work immersively:
1. Create a safe environment - it might mean drawing curtains, making sure your training room isn't interrupted, and ease people in gently...maybe save the role play until after the first break, and always always get permission before videoing or even taking photographs.
2. If you are including role play - use actors to act, allow the delegates to be themselves - and always offer support and ideas - ideally including those from the floor. There is nothing worse than telling a delegate to "be the customer" - after all it's NOT GCSE drama, and you'll either get the delegate who likes to perform or the one who doesn't - either way, they are not demonstrating the actual (work-related) skills that you are trying to elicit or embed. ...and through incorporating ideas from the floor in the style of "forum theatre", you get to guage what the delegates are thinking as well as recognise their ideas and engage with them - plus you might learn something new yourself!
3. If it's not for you - don't do it!!
For more information on experiential learning and some training ideas, please see the paper I wrote for the International Institute of Engineers and Researchers Conference in Singapore where I was awarded "Best paper"...and had the whole conference dancing to Saturday Night Fever.
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience For quick tips and tools: click for SKILL PILL and Q&A videos and here for Media appearances. Twitter/IG @draudreyt