Why coaching practice in VR should be part of every management training program

One male coaching another male wearing a Strivr VR headset

A manager wears many hats but their ability to be a coach is the most consequential. As a coach, managers are responsible for team performance, which includes resolving conflicts between colleagues, providing constructive feedback, and sometimes just listening. Companies that provide management training to their employees are making an investment towards a profitable future.

While traditional management training programs provide networking opportunities, role-play, and one-on-one mentorship, it is difficult to replicate coaching scenarios. The catch-22 is that coaching scenarios need to be practiced, but when the chips are down the coachable moments have real consequences and the delivery needs to be right. A manager needs to practice this skill by being able to recognize the right time, see the signals, listen, and say the right things. 

With Virtual Reality (VR) as a solution for delivering management training programs, prospective managers have an opportunity to upskill themselves and get repetitions through coaching scenarios on-demand until they feel comfortable and confident.

Why turn to a management training program delivered through VR?

Due to the constraints of traditional management training programs, many companies are turning to VR. 

Managers can now put on a VR headset and become immersed into real-world simulations. They can practice their coaching skills in a safe, engaging environment. They learn, solve problems, speak out loud, and watch/listen to the playback of their performance.

Through repetition, immediate feedback, and the use of real-world inputs, VR is more effective and memorable than traditional management training approaches.

VR also provides a wealth of valuable data about attention, engagement, and verbal analytics. This data helps paint a more complete picture of managers’ skills in the context of their actual roles.

Are they good communicators? Can they manage through crises? How well do they handle peer-to-peer conflict?

Through immersive data, we learn significantly more than we would with role plays or videos and paper assessments.

Here are some cases where industry leaders are helping managers become better coaches through VR-based management training programs. The impact of delivering management training through VR has significant benefits for the organization.

DDI uses VR to practice giving effective feedback

Feedback is critical to effective coaching, healthy teams, and a strong company culture. Unfortunately, learning to give good feedback is often done in a live environment where it is a sink-or-swim moment. VR offers an exciting and safe medium to cultivate and practice this critical skill. In fact, such experiences are designed to simulate feedback conversations so managers can learn, practice, and self-evaluate. 

DDI recognized the power of VR and its ability to impact the management training programs they provide. In one experience, learners sit across from a direct-report who is struggling to work effectively with a colleague. As the learners speak out loud providing their feedback to the employee, their speech, head, and hand movements are being recorded. Then, learners have an opportunity to watch and listen to themselves for self-evaluation, an important tactic for long-term retention of the material.

Verizon uses VR to build empathy

Working through difficult conversations and having empathy for the aggrieved is an art form in communicating effectively. Effective coaches recognize the right ways and time to speak or listen in a way that makes others feel heard.

Coaching simulations in VR give managers an opportunity to “walk in the shoes of another” to help them see and understand different perspectives. In this immersive space, managers can practice relating to their team members, and allows them to work through mistakes with immediate feedback in a safe environment.

At Verizon, they used VR training to help call center agents build empathy for customers on the phone. When agents self-evaluated, by watching the playback of what they said and did in the VR simulation, they identified where they could improve and began to understand why customers were frustrated. 

“The employees were much more confident because they were aware of themselves in how they were handling the customer.” 

Cleo Scott, Director of Global L&D, Verizon

For a management training program, the same principles apply. In VR, leaders get to work through difficult conversations, then experience how they handled the conversation by sitting in the seat of their team member and watching the playback. It’s an extremely powerful way to create empathy. 

In addition, learners become proficient much faster with VR. At Verizon, learners spent 30 minutes in VR, which was significantly less time than the several hours they used to spend role-playing and doing classroom training. 

Coaching in VR-based management training delivers results

Coaching is a critical skill for managers and there are industry leaders already taking advantage of VR through the Strivr Immersive Learning Platform. What feels like a pipedream is actually a reality: companies are passing on their best coaching lessons through an engaging and effective medium. 

To learn more about how you can build other soft skills with VR, download our ebook, Building soft skills in the workplace with Immersive Learning.

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