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Use Learning Styles to Customize Your Employee Training

January 28, 2015

As we’ve stated in a previous post, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all employee training.

There are actually two layers of truth to that assertion. Not only should each business customize its training program to best meet the expectations and needs of its customers, each employee has distinct learning preferences. These preferences will affect the employees’ ability to absorb the material.

Understanding learning styles will help you conduct the most effective training that gets through to each individual and sticks. Each learning style has its own strengths and weaknesses.

visual learning stylesVisual

Visual learners want to see the information or idea that’s being conveyed to them. They like graphs and diagrams and may color-code their notes and materials. They can learn a new task by watching someone else do it.

Strengths

  • Can visualize ideas in detail
  • Does well in face-to-face environments
  • Learns well from descriptive examples and demonstrations, pictures, or diagrams
  • Good note-takers and list-makers

Challenges

  • Can get distracted by clutter, movement, or crowds
  • Might struggle to listen for long periods of time
  • Less likely to retain what they hear

auditory learning stylesAuditory

Auditory learners want to hear the information. Mnemonic devices and rhymes make intuitive sense to these students, and they have no problem paying attention to a long presentation – they may even quote the speaker later on from memory. They can learn a new task if it’s described well to them.

Strengths:

  • Attentive listeners and communicators with a good memory for what is said, with or without note-taking
  • Does well on the phone
  • Absorbs verbal/written instructions

Challenges:

  • Sensitive to a noisy or loud environment
  • May find handouts during presentations to be more distracting than helpful
  • May need to hear instructions repeatedly to fully grasp them

kinesthetic learning stylesKinesthetic

Kinesthetic learners want to do it themselves. They are hands-on students who often rely on muscle memory and “feeling” their way through things. If teaching others, they’d rather demonstrate than explain.

Strengths:

  • Learns well with plenty of practice
  • Can figure things out as they go along
  • Thrives in in-person learning environments

Challenges:

  • Prefers a peaceful learning environment without a lot of active movement around them
  • Less likely to pay attention to verbal or written instructions
  • Unlikely to study from notes
  • Can feel trapped or restless in a classroom or at a desk for prolonged periods

Most adults won’t fall 100% into one box, but could have a secondary learning style that compliments their dominant preference. There are simple activities you can have your team complete to identify their learning styles.

Training for the Different Learning Styles

A slideshow presentation delivered by a single speaker may engage the visual and auditory learners, but leave the kinesthetic learners bored. They’d prefer a class with lots of activities and opportunities to practice, but the visual and auditory learners may then fall behind without as much verbal information.

When designing your training curriculum, make it a priority to include activities and methods that engage all three styles. Show, tell, and do. Pay attention to what seems to be working for your own group – after all, if the team skews towards visual learners, the learning materials might as well follow suit.

Effective employee training can have an indirect impact on the customer experience. You want skilled representatives on the front lines of customer service – and you get skilled representatives by taking their learning styles into consideration.

Want to know more about customized training solutions designed with the customer experience in mind? Contact CSP today.