There are various learning styles that employees prefer which makes a coach’s job more difficult. Managers that understand how their employees prefer to learn can design coaching programs based on their preferences. The styles range from an independent learner to a highly collaborative learner. An independent learner will produce the greatest outcome when given self-directed learning projects versus a highly collaborative learner who does better when working in groups. In addition to the levels of learning styles, there are some people that absorb more information when they see it or some when they hear it, others need to be “hands on” to learn. Great leaders, managers and coaches all recognize these differences in learning styles and tailor their coaching efforts accordingly.
When coaching the individual who is a visual learner, allow them to attend training sessions or watch a video. Seeing how something is done or watching a demonstration of a new product will allow them to take away the most from this opportunity. When possible, use pictures, diagrams and actual objects to help this type of person learn. By allowing them to demonstrate something to others, it will make the most of what they have to offer since their preparation is likely to be predicated on how they learn.
For those who are auditory learners, demonstrations are a good way to learn since there will generally be a description included. If there is an opportunity to be supported by podcasts or audiobooks, that will further enhance the learner’s grasp of the information. These people generally like to talk as well. so allow for conversations and brainstorming.
Hands-on learners can be given an actual product to review or demonstrate (“to teach something is to know it”). Pair them up with one to two others and allow them to “dig in” both figuratively and literally to demonstrate to others what the process or object is.
Finally, there are those who are more independent and only need to read something and it’s locked in their mind. Allow them to self-study, but create reports of some sort to hold them accountable for what they are studying. Teaming them up with a peer after their self-study can help to verify that they take away from the learning what is desired.
Managers need to understand who their employees are and coach them based upon the way in which they learn best. One size does NOT fit all. Managers and leaders that learn how to coach to the individual’s learning styles will have more productive employees that will save the organization time and money.