Today’s economy demands that businesses and workers alike continuously learn and apply new information to remain competitive. However, this presents numerous challenges to workplace managers, who must design training programs to fit a diverse array of employees.
Everyone learns differently, which makes it important for managers to identify each employee’s learning style. Whether a worker is a kinesthetic, auditory, or visual learner will determine the optimal method to use when training them. Failure to do this could mean underutilizing or overlooking talent that exists within our organization. By choosing the right program, a team minimizes training time, fully utilizes available talent, and primes the pump for long-term success.
Why learning styles matter in the workplace
In order to train an employee effectively, you have to understand their learning style. This is crucial in a fast-paced corporate environment, where time wasted on ineffective training costs money and slows production.
When employees are trying to learn a new task, mismatches with training methods and learning styles are discouraging. You may misattribute an employee’s failure to effectively learn a new piece of information to a lack of motivation, rather than a mismatch in training style. Avoiding many of these problems starts by tailoring training programs to the needs of individual employees from the get-go.
Identifying your team’s learning styles
Here are some practical ways to identify the three different learning styles of your team members:
The Kinesthetic Learner: Kinesthetic learners gain knowledge through direct experience and practice. They like to dive right into an example project and learn by interacting with the subject matter. Kinesthetic learners appreciate simulations and walk-throughs, but less so lectures or other one-way teaching styles. They benefit less from others sharing their experiences than other types of learners. Given their tendency to explore, kinesthetic learners often take more risks than other learners, which makes for a valuable team member. However, they may require more resources for truly effective training.
The Auditory Learner: Auditory learners absorb information best when it is shared out loud. They learn best from speeches, lectures or one-on-one teaching. Auditory learners may talk their way through a problem or repeat information aloud to aid in retention. They greatly benefit from discussions and learn more by talking about what they know with others. However, this presents many challenges when it’s not possible to easily convey information through words alone, or if there isn’t much room for dialogue in your training system.
The Visual Learner: The Social Science Research Network reports that 65 percent of adults fall into this category. Visual learners assimilate information when it is presented as an image. They learn best when information is broken down into clear sequences or processes and is presented in formats such as graphs, charts, diagrams, and text. They are effective visualizers and work well with self-instruction opportunities. However, they often find auditory learning ineffective and may lose interest during discussions or lectures.