Training News

In Training, One Size Does NOT Fit All

By Theresa Damato

In training, one size doesn’t fit all. With thoughts on this issue and how companies can address it in order to best train their workforces, we present an article by Theresa Damato, vice president of Worldwide Marketing for Saba Software.

Just like your company, every person working in it has a unique point of view, approach, and style. Just like our mothers told us when we were kids, we are all truly one of a kind, and thus, we all have our own unique learning styles.

Some people are incredibly logical, linear thinkers, who can rapidly understand a product by reading a detailed manual. Others are visual learners and comprehend information faster when they watch a video of a product and can visualize exactly how it works. Still others are tactile learners, and just reading or seeing is not enough. Tactile learners need to get their hands on something before they can truly understand what it does and how it operates.

Layer on top of these styles demographic differences, like Millennials. These super-sharp, super-fast digital natives have a tremendous capacity for bite-size morsels of information and get easily distracted and bored if the point is not reached quickly. The point is, whichever way a person best learns a new skill or digests a piece of information, his or her style of learning is almost guaranteed to be different from the next person.

If you look at this from a training and development lens, it can sound pretty overwhelming. Which is why, at face value, a one-size-fits-all approach to training can be an attractive proposition. The idea that you can “build once, implement many” can save you a lot of time, resources, and implementation headaches. It is also likely to be less expensive in the short term.

But unfortunately, we know that learning and development is ultimately about ensuring the best fit for the individual, and when your training doesn’t differentiate or allow for different learning styles, results are going to suffer. To maximize return on investment (ROI), personal development, and worker satisfaction, learning leaders and managers must tailor professional development efforts to maximize the potential of each individual.

So, what should we keep in mind when we approach the process and when we’re designing and implementing a training program?

Variations in Learning Styles

Studies over the years have shown there are many ways in which people process and learn new information. Per The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 61% of students had multiple learning preferences of the visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic (VARK) categories. The most preferred teaching methodology was practical/dissection with 39% favorability. Tutorial training was the least popular, with only 12% of respondents favoring it.

You can see that while there is some commonality in the types of learning styles that appeal to people overall, organizations can better help their employees during training to retain information by adjusting the program to best suit the individuals involved. By doing this, organizations can improve the efficiency, better engage their employees, and maximize their ROI.

Now, this is much easier said than done, and for that reason, this is where learning technologies that use predictive and prescriptive analytics can be a game-changer. From subject matter to form factor, prescriptive rules enable learning leaders to customize content based on their target audience. And predictive analytics have a personalized “it knows me” capability similar to Amazon and Netflix that can serve up more of what a learner is responding to—and less of what they’re not.

We will present the conclusion of Damato’s article in tomorrow’s Advisor.

Theresa Damato is the vice president of worldwide marketing at Saba, where she leads the global marketing team and directs brand, messaging, integrated marketing programs, product marketing, and demand creation strategies. Her organization is responsible for positioning Saba’s growth strategy, cultivating opportunities in new and existing customer markets, aligning marketing with revenue and sales growth strategies, and growing demand for Saba solutions globally.