There are many advantages of role play in the workplace, such as the fact that it allows people to empathize with one another, creating a more cohesive work environment. It also allows employees to practice making mistakes without having any serious consequences and gets them involved interactively in a lesson. But there are things you should know before practicing workplace role playing, so that your message gets across clearly and your employees gain the perspective you want them to.
Make a clear and concise outline of the conflict you want your employees to play out. Keep it simple so that your employees will remember the message, but add enough detail that a real conversation can ensue. Give the role players a specific situation and specific motivations.
Allow your role players to play different parts. For instance, you don't want to have one person playing the victim in every role play scenario. Let as many of your employees as possible have the opportunity to play an array of parts.
Tell your role players to "freeze" or "pause" when they say or do something wrong (assuming they don't know any better. It's different if they're intentionally playing the part of the bad guy). Let them know what mistakes they're making and how to correct them.
Involve all of your employees. Even if you can't give roles to everyone, make sure you ask questions, get feedback and hear what they have to say.
Get relevant feedback. Don't allow your employees to criticize the role players' acting skills. You need only to get their thoughts on the situation that's being played out.
Keep a time limit on the scenario that's being played out. It's important to let the role players get what they need out of the situation, but the observers may not be as attentive as those involved in the role play. A few minutes for each scenario is plenty of time.
Thomas McNish has been writing since 2005, contributing to Salon.com and other online publications. He is working toward his Associate of Science in computer information technology from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.