Tailor to learning styles although there are many

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Tailor to learning styles. Although there are many learning styles, a careful review of adult learning theory reveals that three styles predominate. These three are not mutually exclusive; certain employees may rely on a combination of two or perhaps all three. Nonetheless, staying attuned to each employee s style or styles will help focus your coaching. First, there s analyzing. Claudia from Ann Taylor is an analyzer. She understands a task by taking it apart, examining its elements, and reconstructing it piece by piece. Because every single component of a task is important in her eyes, she craves information. She needs to absorb all there is to know about a subject before she can begin to feel comfortable with it. If she doesn t feel she has enough information, she will dig and push until she gets it. She will read the assigned reading. She will attend the required classes. She will take good notes. She will study. And she will still want more. The best way to teach an analyzer is to give her ample time in the classroom. Roleplay with her. Do postmortem exercises with her. Break her performance down into its component parts so she can carefully build it back up. Always allow her time to prepare. The analyzer hates mistakes. A commonly held view is that mistakes fuel learning, but for the analyzer, this just isn t true. In fact, the reason she prepares so diligently is to minimize the possibility of mistakes. So don t expect to teach her much by throwing her into a new situation and telling her to wing it. The opposite is true for the second dominant learning style, doing. While the most powerful learning moments for the analyzer occur prior to the performance, the doer s most powerful moments occur during the performance. Trial and error are integral to this learning process. Jeffrey, from Michelle Miller s store, is a doer. He learns the most while he s in the act of figuring things out for himself. For him, preparation is a dry, uninspiring activity. So rather than role-play with someone like Jeffrey, pick a specific task within his role that is simple but real, give him a brief overview of the outcomes you want, and get out of his way. Then gradually increase the degree of each task s complexity until he has mastered every aspect of his role. He may make a few mistakes along the way, but for the doer, mistakes are the raw material for learning. Finally, there s watching. Watchers won t learn much through role-playing. They won t learn by doing, either. Since most formal training programs incorporate both of
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these elements, watchers are often viewed as rather poor students. That may be true, but they aren t necessarily poor learners. Watchers can learn a great deal when they are given the chance to see the total performance. Studying the individual parts of a task is about as meaningful for them as studying the individual pixels of a digital photograph. What s important for this type of learner is the content of each pixel, its position relative to all the others. Watchers are only able to see this when they view the complete picture.
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