With so many individuals that make up your office, it goes without saying that each person will have their own unique way of working. Though these differing methods and approaches are what set us apart as people, it’s the way they come together that so often contributes to the success of the team as a whole.
From using visual cues to your advantage to taking a more hands-on approach, everyone learns differently. As a manager, it’s important to be able to marshal the means most appropriate to your team to get the best out of them. Here, we’ll run through the key features of some identifiable workplace learning styles and how to approach each. We’ve also put together a helpful quiz to help you identify your own learning style.
Visual and verbal learners
The kind of person who thrives in an office where they listen to and look at information, these learners are in their element when discussions are optimised with visual examples of key points. Charts, graphs, images and written outlines are their bread and butter, a feast of information and data with which to supplement their daily duties.
With a keen eye for detail and a flair for retaining information, ask them for help whenever you’re looking to recall a detail from a meeting. More often than not, they took down copious notes that they’ll be happy to share with you. Better still, provide them with downloadable notes, slides and documents which they can come back to if they need to.
How to approach visual and verbal learners
Your interactions with these learners should be verbally strong and appropriately detailed, reinforced with visual cues to optimise the message. They’re also keen researchers for projects and skilled at coming up with solutions, so don’t be afraid to give them the big, in-depth work that comes your team’s way. Strong performers in public speaking and writing, they can be relied upon to present their findings in a clear logical way.
Visual and non-verbal learners
More suited to working by themselves in a quiet environment, the visual, non-verbal learner prefers independence rather than hashing out the details in a meeting, so try to minimise their time spent away from their own work. Intuitive and incisive, they can read and understand documents, charts and graphs with little need for extra steering or explanation.
How to approach visual and non-verbal learners
Comfortable in the office just as much as they are when working remotely, consider allowing them (and the rest of your team) a few days telecommuting to see how they fare. On the off chance they need a question answering, be available, but be careful not to micromanage them. The visual, non-verbal learner thrives in their own space, give them the independence they favour to show them you trust in their ability to complete tasks without any input. Self-reflection and introspection are not roadblocks for the non-verbal learner, allow them to go at their own pace, but make sure you’re balancing things out with collaborative activities every once in a while.
Auditory and verbal learners
A keen conversationalist, this type of learner always has a calendar that’s stacked with meetings, one-to-ones and brainstorming sessions in which they can express their ideas. It goes without saying that they prefer to talk things through, even when they’re passing by your desk, so be prepared to chat with them often.
However, they’re often very good at writing responses and putting together reports when all is said and done – they just tend to speak up first.
How to approach auditory and verbal learners
As opposed to the previous learner, the auditory verbal type is more at home in a busy, noise-filled working environment, where they seem to thrive off the energy of others’ chatter. If you’re looking to help them concentrate, then allow them to listen to music at work; most people prefer to work in a quiet environment where the auditory verbal type won’t have a chance to thrive as much.
Consider giving them duties that involve group discussions and team-learning activities where they can bounce ideas off others and express themselves in the way they prefer. Often, they are strong at understanding the feelings and motivations of others, making teamwork the ideal place to help them to thrive.
Additionally, make sure you’re checking in with them in-person on a regular basis to make sure they’re clear on expectations.
Tactile and kinaesthetic
Some people learn best by simply doing, even if it involves large amounts of trial and error. Their hands-on methods involve getting involved with things like simulations, walk-throughs, and sessions that include building or working with physical objects. For example, if you have a marketing team that needs to learn about a new product that your company is offering, allow them to hold it so they can inspect it up close and really get to know the product.
How to approach tactile and kinaesthetic learners
A calm office atmosphere puts the tactile learner in an ideal environment to tackle problems. Only five per cent of the population tend to learn in a tactile, kinaesthetic manner, so allow them to complete tasks on their own instead of telling them how to do something; the tactile learner is a natural, intuitive problem solver after all.
If they begin to get distracted or fidgety during meetings or presentations, then look towards gearing any talks or presentations to their style by framing any findings or topics as questions for them to involve themselves in.
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