When it comes to introducing new concepts or practices to your team, not everyone will grasp or process the information the same way. Learning styles help teachers and students, but are just as helpful for managers training employees.

Visual

Someone with a visual learning style prefers seen or observed things, including pictures, diagrams, demonstrations, films, etc. These people will be best able to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first. This type of learner may become frustrated with too many meetings or discussions.

Tips for accommodating visual learners:

  • Use maps or flow charts to organize
  • Highlight and color code books/notes to organize and relate material
  • Provide material on paper and move them around into proper sequence.

Auditory

Someone with an auditory learning style prefers listening to the spoken word, sounds and noises. These people will use phrases such as “tell me,” or “let’s talk it over,” and will be best able to perform a new task after listening to instructions from an expert. They are happy being given instructions over the phone, and can remember all the words to songs that they hear.

This type of learner does best by talking things through. You can help them be successful by being a sounding board.

Tips for auditory learners:

  • Engage the trainee in conversation about the subject matter
  • Question trainees about the material
  • Ask for oral summaries of material
  • Record training sessions and review them together.

Kinesthetic or tactile

Someone with a kinesthetic learning style prefers physical experience. They will use phrases such as “let me try” and prefer to learn as they go. They are less likely to read the instructions first.

The tactile learner may do better in an environment where they have the opportunity to move around as they work or think. They may come across as having nervous energy, but it is just how they process information.

Tips for accommodating kinesthetic or tactile learners:

  • Write out checklists of materials to be learned
  • Use role play or dramatize concepts.

Then there are the conundrums like me who exhibit a combination of learning styles. I’m a mixture of tactile and auditory, leaning more toward auditory. 

Take the time to find out your teams’ learning styles, and accommodate training for a more efficient and pleasant experience. You’ll likely save time and money in the long run.

Sources: UMass Dartmouth, vark-learn.com, cornerstoneondemand.com

krodda@gie.net