Identifying Employee Learning Styles

By Sean Gordon


Organizations today are in desperate need of understanding the power in how their team members learn best. To assume that there is only one learning style for all employees is detrimental to your organization. Every individual learns and engages with new situations and skills differently, so by fostering an atmosphere that welcomes all learners and helps them thrive in their own capacity, your organization can drastically improve motivation and employee engagement.  

Psychologists have broken down learning styles into three primary categories. Each of these focuses on a different sensory aspect of the human body. These three categories suggest that individuals do not learn in a uniform way, rather that there are multiple effective ways to process and retain new information.

Let’s dive deeper into the three learner profiles.

Hear it.

The Auditory Learner

Listen closely. This is an auditory learner style. Auditory learners prefer to talk and listen as they learn. When an auditory learner is introduced to a new concept or skill that they are tackling, their voice is their best communication asset.

You can cater to these learners by expressing an overview of what will be covered in your time together. This helps your learners prepare themselves to listen for critical information and allows them to be better prepared for what they will be learning. As you begin your instruction, thoroughly covering processes and expectations that your team will be in charge of is important for auditory learners. Learning how to teach through conversation will be vital for these learners to retain and apply the covered material.

Let’s look at a few learning tactics that help auditory learners:

  • Foster conversation and discussion throughout your learning experience. Allowing your auditory learners to explain ideas out loud and process material is important for their ability to retain what is being taught.
  • Auditory learners tend to be very gifted storytellers. Look for ways that this skill can be developed in their role and allow them to cultivate that skill.
  • Auditory learners are excellent at working through complex problems by talking about them out loud. Create a space for this to take place in your work environment.

See it.

The Visual Learner

Monkey See. Monkey Do. These learners desire to see everything fully. They need color, imagery, and detailed visual depiction as much as possible. When possible, use pictures as a supplement or complement of text. This will look different depending on the industry or vertical your company is in. Visual learners have a knack for instinctively following directions. They are able to easily visualize objects and have a great sense of imagery. When providing learning opportunities to these team members, ensure that you still read or discuss the context of the visual representation that you have provided. Visual learners tend to associate a visual representation along with the context that is provided. The imagery often is a springboard for the information that actually needs to be retained.

Let’s look at a few learning tactics that help visual learners:

  • Provide a to-do list on your agenda. Seeing what actually needs to be accomplished written in text will be incredibly helpful for these learners.
  • When possible, supplement verbal lectures with handouts, diagrams, or other visuals.
  • When creating content for learning development, use color and engaging imagery in your presentations and other content resources.
  • If you are providing feedback to your visual learner employees, it is helpful to also provide written feedback. They learn best from seeing, so they will be more likely to receive and process written feedback over verbal feedback alone.

Do it.

The Kinesthetic Learner

“Just let me do it already.” Kinesthetic learners rarely enjoy sitting still. They want to stay active and engaged consistently while learning a new skill. They are positive risk-takers and love to get things done. These learners have a positive effect on those around them. Their high energy usually thrives best in environments where traditional learning styles aren’t implemented. Kinesthetic learners prefer to take action in their learning experience. These learners might be your more antsy employees. Do you have team members who struggle to do one mundane task that requires no energy or action? By implementing a few learning strategies for these learners, it can be pivotal for how they perform at your organization.

Let’s look at a few learning tactics that help kinesthetic learners:

  • Provide a space to stand instead of sitting. Give them room to move around a little – this will actually keep them more engaged in what they are doing. When these learners feel like they are active, they are able to perform better in their roles.
  • Use simple tactics like using a pen, highlighter, or other office supplies during a training session. Whether it’s underlining text or drawing a diagram, when these learners feel like they have motion while learning, their retention rate will drastically increase.
  • Get creative. Find new ways to provide engaging learning spaces for your team. Just because you are in a traditional work environment, doesn’t mean you have to limit the way that your team learns through development training. Look at ways to implement small changes that help out these types of learners. It will make a difference.

By implementing small changes within your workplace for each of these learning types, you are already setting your team up for success. Every learner is different, so a uniform learning style is a sure way to kill motivation. Keep them engaged by looking for ways that help them succeed best through their own learning style.

Is your team ready to implement a new way of efficient learning? Learn about our employee engagement platform here.

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