As a project manager you will have worked with many different types of people, all whom learn in very different ways. Part of your job in achieving a successful project outcome is to recognise the potential in those working in your project team, and work around any issues or weaknesses they may have. Every project is a new learning experience so you also owe it to yourself to understand how you best absorb information, because the role of a project manager involves a continuous learning journey – every day. So if you want to get the best out of yourself and your team, it is important to understand different learning styles.
Here’s a basic overview:
The seven learning styles –
- Visual – a person who learns in this way learns best seeing pictures and images and has a good spatial understanding. They benefit from diagrams, role play and visual demonstrations.
- Aural – a person who learns this way learns best with sound. So spoken explanations of processes, rhythmic team building games and conversational brainstorming works well for this learning style.
- Verbal – a person who learns this way likes to use words and writing to explain their thoughts and feelings. They would benefit from using textbooks, blogs and essays as learning sources, and using written diagrams and graphs to explain information.
- Physical – a person who learns this way likes to use their body and hands to learn and to explain. So role play is an important tool for physical learners.
- Logical – a person who learns this way will be able to completely understand complex methodologies and processes, as well as data spreadsheets and graphs. They may struggle to think ‘outside of the box’ and needs structured, A to B learning in order to grasp information.
- Social – a person who learns this way is an excellent team player and their best ideas will come out during team meetings or when working with another person.
- Solitary – a person who works this way works best alone and likes to take control of their own learning. A solitary learner does well with individual tasks and responsibilities and may struggle to share a workload.
Knowing the different types of learning styles is one thing, the skill is in recognising what type of learner a person is and, of course, we all have a little bit of each type within us. But a little critical observation of your own learning styles will help you understand how you absorb information best, which will benefit the speed and efficiency in which you take on information. It will also help you make the most of your project management training. With others, a good level of observation will help you recognise how your team learns. You may notice some are more forthright in group workshops and others seem to hit targets at speed when they work alone. Paying attention to these working styles is important so you can make the best of yourself, and your team.