Two of the main things that motivate people – according to Drive by Daniel Pink – are mastery and autonomy.
Mastery isn’t referring to perfection, but the continual improvement of our chosen skills and expertise. Meanwhile, autonomy motivates us by giving us control over our thoughts, actions and time.
Effective learning programmes incorporate both of these things. They let us learn and develop at our own pace and in a way that suits us best, and they provide us with steady improvement paired with positive feedback and reinforcement.
Workplace training has been evolving over recent years from handbooks and powerpoints to bespoke learning systems designed to fit multiple learning styles. The new ways of learning really help people stay engaged in, and absorb the information, that businesses need them to know.
What learning styles are there?
There are – broadly – seven different styles of learning. Yet, even in the old days of everyone being in the same office, it was rare to see all styles accommodated in training.
- Visual learners may draw or doodle when they take notes and work best with imagery and colour coding.
- Auditory learners learn through sound. So they may absorb more information from podcasts or discussions.
You can combine these two learning styles through things like YouTube videos, Twitch streams or webinars.
- Verbal learners like to write and speak about what they are learning. They’re the kind of people who come up with mnemonics or who like to roleplay scenarios.
- Physical learners learn by doing – so things like on the job training helps them a great deal.
- Logical learners prefer to classify and categorise information. They might do things like keep a folder of notes organised by topic or use index cards.
You could also consider the social aspect of learning.
- Interpersonal learners thrive off learning from social interactions. They may be the people who turn to others with questions that they could answer via Google.
- Intrapersonal learners, however, learn better alone – when they can process their thoughts away from the buzz of other people around them. They might not thrive in group discussions, exercises or webinars that require audience participation (in fact, they may find it harder to absorb the information at all).
How can businesses possibly accommodate all styles of learning?
Corporate learning hasn’t – traditionally – been very diverse. Powerpoint presentations tended to dominate training, maybe with the odd away day / all day group training / weekends with group sessions thrown in.
Let’s be honest – it wasn’t very engaging.
But you don’t have to run out and create dozens of different training formats either.
To start with, most of us are probably a mix of several learning styles. I’m an intrapersonal learner who learns best with verbal and visual learning methods – while Kate is interpersonal and verbal.
So, while a YouTube training video that I could watch whenever I liked would suit me, Kate would be more likely to learn from something like a group video chat & webinar.
One of the best things businesses can do to support different learning styles is to use an online learning environment that offers course content in a variety of formats, and that people can access at any time.
But also understand that even the best-designed webinar learning experience won’t be effective for some people. While expecting totally independent learning won’t be great for others. It’s all about knowing your employees and being willing to create learning opportunities that will work for them.
Continual learning is vital for developing a continually improving workforce, but it’s important to do as much as you can to personalise this learning if you want people to develop to their fullest potential.