Recently, our Director of Culture and Engagement, Natalie Bell, wrote an article for Nucleus’ Illuminate, on adapting learning styles to suit your team – catch up below…

Advisers, financial planners and their teams have to deal with an ever-evolving backdrop as they go about their day-to-day roles of serving clients.

This means continuous learning and development is crucial at all levels of the business in order to stay well informed and working at the top of your game.

But this requirement can present a number of challenges for employers and managers wanting to design training programmes and initiatives for their diverse employees.

We’re all different. But when it comes to personal development and growth, we all broadly slot into three categories of approaches to learning, or ‘learning styles’. These are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

Learning styles and how to identify them

The Visual Learner: (estimated to be 65 per cent of the population) This is the most popular style of learning, and these learners gain knowledge through visual information and imagery. They learn best when information is broken down into clear sequences, and which is presented in formats such as pictures, charts, diagrams and text.

The Auditory Learner: (estimated to be 30 per cent of the population) Auditory learners gain knowledge best when it is shared out loud – through methods like lectures, presentations, podcasts and one-to-one teaching. They are also the type of people who will talk their way through a problem or repeat information aloud to help them retain knowledge.

The Kinaesthetic Learner: (estimated to be 5 per cent of the population) Kinaesthetic learners gain knowledge through practical experiences. They learn by ‘doing’, not by listening or reading. They also appreciate walk-throughs and diving right into a project with a more trial-and-error approach, much like role-play or scenario setting.

Why do learning styles matter?

It’s no secret that some of the most successful businesses are those that have fostered a diverse workforce, and benefit from that variety.

Organisations are essentially teams of people, each with their own learning preferences and personality types.

As a result, leadership teams need to understand how to adapt their management style to provide the best environment possible for each employee to flourish and succeed.

Importantly, this needs to be reflected through developing a broader understanding of effective communication across the company, with employees who all process information and learn in different ways.

Understanding an employee’s learning style is particularly crucial in a fast-paced working environment, where time wasted on ineffective training costs money and slows productivity.

Failure to do this could lead to underutilising or overlooking talent that exists within your team.

Understanding more about your team

Being aware of your team’s preferences is the first step to making all areas of your workplace a more engaged and motivated place to be.

Regardless of the type of learner your employees are, development and training opportunities within the workplace need to be as engaging as possible. Once their ambition has been aligned to the business need, the design and delivery of training should complement your overall culture.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into learning styles, 16 Personalities offer an online questionnaire to complete which gives a more comprehensive breakdown of individual personality types.

It’s a free tool (which is always a plus!) and a great introduction for anyone looking to dip their toe in the water in understanding their team more without a potentially huge initial outlay.

After completing the questionnaire, there is practical guidance, advice and things to look out for in relation to each personality type, which can really help with more effective communication, learning and teamwork.

The question of time

I know from personal experience that time is often the greatest challenge when it comes to designing effective training programmes.

Having developed our learning and development framework for Para-Sols and Apricity, I’m well aware of the sheer volume of blood, sweat and tears that goes into a) designing the content and b) ultimately, delivering it too.

We’ve been asked many a time by advice firms big and small whether we offer training, as the success of our training framework has ultimately been responsible for our own scale and growth over the last couple of years.

We know the power of quality training and how it results in a more engaged, fulfilled team. Naturally this can then be used to benefit a business and help it scale.

With all that in mind, we launched The Art of Finance earlier this year. This is a training solution for people with little or no experience in financial services, making it easier for employers to upskill their team with minimal in-house effort.

As you’d expect, it’s built on the premise of understanding learning styles and purposely restricted to small cohorts of 10-12 people. This offers a more exclusive, coaching-like approach to learning and development.

It combines what’s required to achieve Level 4, along with the practical skills needed to be a successful paraplanner or compliance officer.

There’s no death by PowerPoint and we supply a range of tools and learning resources such as virtual breakfast study clubs, ‘experiential’ classroom sessions, webinars, MP3 downloads and more.

If you still need convincing…

Regardless of how you approach your training – whether with an external provider or in-house – the ‘why’ should be really clear before the ‘how’.

Good quality training will ultimately:

  • Increase employee motivation and job satisfaction;
  • Reduce the time taken to learn new skills, while making sure no one get left behind;
  • Improve staff retention and discretionary effort; and
  • Help you understand your team better, and carry out more effective and realistic performance appraisals.

Adapting training and communications might seem daunting, but my greatest piece of advice would be to simply ask your team: ‘how do you best learn?’

Use that as your starting point, then take on board their feedback and experiment with the next piece of training you deliver.

With the right mindset and supporting tools in place, your business will find it easier to learn and adapt to the changes that technology, regulation and the economy throw at you.

How to adapt your team’s learning styles
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