Bringing Your Learning Style to Work

Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in ComLead, Organizational Leadership

Bringing Your Learning Style to Work

We often associate learning styles with primary school, but the same framework that helped you memorize state capitals or function of mitochondria can improve productivity and communication in the workplace.

VARK Model

Neil Fleming’s VARK model is a popular learning style framework used in many workplaces today. Fleming categorizes learning preferences as Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and/or Kinesthetic. To determine your learning style, try this  questionnaire. Those who don’t fit neatly into one category – and there are many of us – are deemed multimodal, and can tailor their learning processes to fit the situation. I found I’m almost evenly kinesthetic and visual, which means diagrams and examples help me work most effectively.

Learning Styles and Leadership

As a leader in your workplace, the learning preference of your coworkers should inform how you dialogue with them. Determining their preference could be as easy as asking them, but sometimes a little experimentation is necessary. Try these techniques based on learning styles in your team:

For visual learners

  • Include graphic representations of information (flowcharts, timelines, maps, infographics, etc.)
  • Incorporate videos (many instructional videos are available on YouTube)
  • Try to eliminate visual distractions from the environment during important meetings (draw shades, close doors, etc.)

Aural

  • Read important written material aloud
  • Keep in mind that a noisy environment will distract your audience
  • Mention that team members are welcome to bring tape recorders to meetings if its helps them remember important information

Read/Write

  • Encourage note taking in general, and leave extra space in handouts for notes
  • Invite group to describe things in their own words – this reinterpretation solidifies information in a read/write mind
  • Verbalize diagrams and visuals, i.e. “The trend is…” or “The relationship is…”

Kinesthetic

  • Use a whiteboard and spatially categorizing information (using boxes, Venn diagrams, or spider charts in your notes). The movement associated with these techniques will help a kinesthetic learning connect with the information
  • Associate pieces of information with physical movement by gesturing when you describe concepts

Making it work for your team

In your next meeting, try mixing up the ways you present information. As you learn what sticks and what doesn’t, you’ll know the best ways to communicate with your team.

Learning style self-assessments make good training or orientation pieces. Include one in your next planning session to start the conversation about learning, productivity and improving real communication in your workplace.

Can you see a connection between your learning style and your experiences at work?