Work Jul 20, 2021



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In part I we have seen how a new tool based on Virtual Reality and gamification could help companies better understand the mental processes behind their managers’ decisions. Players would find themselves in 14th Century Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, faced with a series of successive challenges requiring decisions to be taken, but each of the available options carries consequences…

Interviewing the interviewer

Another field of application of the tool is the typical manager-employee feedback interview. Traditionally, training for this kind of situations would see equal-rank managers acting out the interview, taking turns at impersonating both the “feedback-giver” and the “employee”. Facilitators would observe the behaviours of each participant, often using sophisticated rating algorithms, and provide feedback on the managers’ performance, as well as suggestions on opportunities for improvement and personal development. However, in these traditional role-play exercises, especially since they involve colleagues, participants tend to stick to an unwritten script, never stepping out of their comfort zone. In other words, they make it easy for each other. There is a good chance results may be biased, despite all the science, and therefore be of little use.

The tool developed by Theorema-Studio Volpi team, supported by Studio MACACO as a technical partner, creates a virtual model of a manager’s office, and uses avatars to interpret the role of the employee, or the manager. Avatars are entirely controlled by the facilitator, who can then lead the conversation away from any conventional script, forcing participants to abandon the auto-pilot mode, which can be somewhat uncomfortable but very revealing.

There are several scenarios available, which range from the classic performance review to a formal reprimand or praise. But what is really being gauged here is the individuals’ true leadership style and the way they manage human relationships. The avatar’s behaviour during the interview will challenge the individuals’ legitimacy as leaders. The underlying questions being “What kind of leader are you? Are you really the kind of leader you’d like to be? Why should I follow you? Are you really inspiring me?”

The mental mechanism of the game is based on the EDT principle: Evoke, Disrupt and Train. “Evoking” certain behaviours helps identifying specific issues. Preconceived ideas about such issues then need to be “disrupted” and eradicated before finding, together with participants, the best solutions, according to personal and company values, and “training” to recognise and implement them.

Results are astonishingly accurate, pinpointing potential issues with a great deal of precision, which can hugely help the personal development of participants, and benefit organisations, too, by reassuring them about the true capabilities of their managers as “leaders of people”.

Lockdown unlocked VR potential

Although VR tools for business training have been around for some time, the past year-and-a-half of generalised, global lockdown accelerated their dissemination among business organisations, who now look at remote-learning tools, gamification and digital training solutions with renewed interest. They might also find out about their many advantages over old-style classroom business education, thanks to a Tuscan poet from 700 years ago and his Divine Comedy.

To learn more about VR training, book a free demo with our experts!