Unlocking your mind is influenced by learning from various experiences. One of our challenges in Organizational Development (OD) is keeping learning engagement high so that we develop increased capabilities for the organization.
If you know how you learn best, and how your team members prefer to learn, you can maximize gains from all sorts of situations. After all, life is a series of learning opportunities, and if you can maximize learning, every experience becomes a way to enhance chances for success.
The questionnaire below will help you increase your self-awareness and determine your learning style. The insights gained will lead you to new ways to expand your tools for personal and career development.
To learn about a subject matter, which of the following methods would you most prefer?
___ A – Listen to a lecture
___ B – Participate in a game and discover related learning points
___ C – Read about the topic
___ D – Solve a real-world case study
Your choice gives a clue on your learning style. Are you aware of the learning methods that work well for you? Knowing your individual style will help you keep growing. You can intentionally seek opportunities that suit your learning style to gain new knowledge and skills.
The common concept of learning is largely related to classroom training. The trainer leads the session and uses a variety of methods such as lectures, games, discussions, or other activities to appeal to different types of learners. These are called instructor-led training, to differentiate from methods that are learner-driven.
Progressive learners drive their growth by determining how they can best increase their skills and knowledge.
Take the short assessment below to understand your learning style better. There are no right or wrong answers, so respond honestly, and see what insights will come to you. This can lead to a lot of fun especially when shared with a friend!
1. Your manager gave you a new project assignment. You:
___ A – Ask your manager to explain the big picture, what is expected of you and how he wants the work done
___ B – Jump into the project and learn as you go along
___ C – Prepare by reading manuals or references
___ D – Look for related scenarios or precedents and see what you can use
2. You are going on a vacation. You:
___ A – Study the website of your vacation destination
___ B – Discover what’s there when you get there
___ C – Plan your route and itinerary guided by a map
___ D – Make a list of practical errands you can accomplish along the way
3. In a classroom training session, you learn more when:
___ A – The trainer presents the subject material
___ B – There are lots of activities
___ C – You are given time to reflect and write your thoughts
___ D – There is a clear practical link to your job
4. You just moved to a new city. You:
___ A – Read about its history and interesting places
___ B – Visit as many sights as you can
___ C – Get to know people with whom can discuss your impressions and experiences
___ D – Prioritize finding where the best bargains are
5. A close friend was diagnosed with a major ailment. You:
___ A – Research about approaches to cures
___ B – Accompany him to doctors to get opinions and options
___ C – Discuss with him thoughts, reactions, and plans
___ D – Find somebody who had the same ailment and get tips on dealing with it
Do you see a trend in your responses? If you answered mostly:
A’s – You learn best when you have an understanding of the facts and theories on the subject.
B’s – You learn best when doing activities that allow you to stay fully engaged.
C’s – You learn best when you have time for reflection.
D’s – You learn best when you readily see the application to a practical need.
Now that you have a clue to your learning style, you can plan on finding ways to expand your knowledge and experience using that which comes naturally to you.
- If you like theories and concepts, read!
- If you are the experiential type, seek skill enhancement on-the-job.
- If you like discussions, find people with similar interests and share insights.
- If you are the practical type, focus on solving work problems. The process of solving will lead to your learning.
Take responsibility for expanding your learning. Look at projects or additional tasks from your manager as opportunities to expand what you know and can do. Listening and participating constructively during meetings can become channels for learning. Even simply trying to find a better way to get your job done can be a goldmine for learning.
Here are three other ways by which a leader may use this article in the workplace:
- Is there a difference in the learning style of people across generations? Ask employees from various age groups to answer the questions and compare results across generations. Discussing the findings can lead to better interactions and appreciation of each group.
- What is the learning style prevalent in your team? Get a quick and simple profile of your team members’ learning styles using this survey in one of your meetings. It can be a fun springboard for sharing personal preferences leading to teambuilding.
- Use this to supplement your midyear performance review session. This questionnaire can be a good catalyst for a more effective approach to development coaching. It becomes a light and easy conversation tool specially for planning development action points for the rest of the year.
Just as there are different learning styles, there are several ways by which each one of us can level up! If we actively choose activities that match the preferred learning styles of our people, imagine how much more engaging it will be to learn something new, helping all of us be better at work.
Lin Mukhi is the Vice President for Human Resources of Philippine Investment Management (PHINMA) Inc. Lin is a grateful mother to two teen-agers who help her unlock her mind to enjoy life and live her purpose at home and at work. Lin is the author of two books: Smart Moves in the Workplace (Anvil, 2005) and Smart Moves for Working Women (Anvil, 2006).