In management coaching, we can assume that individuals will learn in a very definite way. For example, a Manager may assume that if you tell them, people will learn; others will say that it is better to show them, and then they will learn. Managers think this because that has been their own experience. However, a simple fact of life is that not everyone is like them! In fact, as a rough guide, you can assume that only 20 per cent of the population are like you, and the other 80 per cent are completely different!

In Management coaching, there are some key principles that really do apply to everyone. In addition, there is the Learning Style Model, which is helpful in providing good guidance in how to coach and train different types of people.

The Learning Styles Model

Different Learning Styles have been researched for many years, but one of the best known, and easiest to use is Fleming’s model. This gives four different Learning Styles

  • Visual learners
  • Auditory learners
  • Reading/writing-preference learners
  • Kinaesthetic learners or tactile learners

Each of these styles indicates how the person prefers to learn, and what methods to use to in coaching to foster learning. People can, have course, learn well using some different styles, but it will make life much easier for the learner if you can identify their most dominant style.

Visual Learners

Visual Learners learn best through pictures, diagrams, charts and other visual aids. When a visual learner sees a flow chart or diagram, they can take in and remember quite complex information. When there is a very simple diagram, say five blank boxes in a row, they can use this to help them follow the five points you are making to them.

When coaching, help your visual style learner by asking them to write down notes in flow chart format, draw their own illustrations of what they have learnt, or design PowerPoint slides to instruct someone else.

Auditory Learners

Auditory Learners learn by sound and speech, hearing and saying. All learners will benefit from repeating the instruction, goal or information back to you. Auditory learners need to use this as a strategy always, e.g. reading notes aloud, summarising in bullet points by saying rather than writing them.

Remember that auditory learners in a coaching situation are listening and concentrating on what you are saying. They are not watching what you are doing or showing them. If you are demonstrating something, or showing them the written word in any form, be careful that you MATCH what you say with what you do. If you put up a slide, read the slide aloud with the learner.

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With goals and deadlines, they will need an aural reminder. If you are an auditory style learner, you will prefer to have this page explained to you!

Read/Write Learning Style

This group learn by reading the information at their leisure, and writing notes to help understanding and learning. In a coaching situation, this learner will need notes or a manual to consult to back up their learning. It is not that they learn entirely from writing, but to digest and make sense of material, they need to read or write.

Read / Write learners need to translate diagrams and charts into summary bullet point statements. Equally, you should check that they have taken written notes of any demonstrations they have seen. In terms of setting goals and remembering deadlines, the read/write learning style definitely need to see these written down, either written by the coach or themselves. They respond well to lists and written reminders.

Kinaesthetic Learners or Tactile Learners

Tactile or Kinaesthetic style are those who learn by experiencing, repeating a demonstration or by working through a process using gestures. The challenge in a coaching situation is that the tactile learner will lose interest with words, or reading, or even summarising themselves. They need to break up the session by watching a demonstration, role-playing or other actions.

These are ‘have a go’ people and it is important that the coach ensures they break down the learning into bite-sized pieces. Otherwise your tactile learner will be off having a go before they are ready!

These few guidelines should help any coach to ensure their coaching sessions become more effective.

Article Author: Kate Tammemagi

Kate Tammemagi  specialises in Management Training. She provides Management Coaching for all levels.

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About the Author: Kate Tammemagi is Trainer and Consultant in Ireland. She specialises in delivering customised Customer Service Training Courses and Leadership Development Training Courses  in businesses,  call centres and professional environments.

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