4 Learning styles

Unsurprisingly, the most successful companies globally are the ones that have fostered a diverse workforce and, among this diversity is the ability to learn. As an organisation, you’ll  attract a variety of  learning styles and personality types so leaders need to understand how to adapt their management style to provide the best environment possible for each employee to succeed. Learning styles have to do with a persons’ affinity to understand and retain information in a certain way. To ensure every employee is engaged and working in their ideal environment, here are 4 distinct learning styles and how you can utilise them:

  1. KINAESTHETIC & TACTILE LEARNING

Kinaesthetic learning is learning by doing. It is also known as the Physical Learning style or Tactile-Kinaesthetic Learning style. Kinaesthetic learners acquire information best when they are able to directly experience it through movement and touch.[1]

They prefer to be active participants rather than passive observers and typically work problems out through trial and error rather than accepting information presented to them. They also often value practical information over theoretical concepts. As a manager, give them physical tasks to demonstrate that they’ve acquired the new skill. Allow them to take notes during meetings and use visual aids as this will keep them mentally engaged.[2]

Note that this worker may come across as having nervous energy, and appear fidgety when listening. This however is likely related to how they process the information[3] – don’t be alarmed or offended.  

  1. VISUAL LEARNING

Visual learning is learning by reading or seeing images. It is also known as Spatial learning style. Visual learners learn best by using images, pictures colours etc. to organise retain and access information. People with a visual learning style are often referred to as visual-spatial learners. [4]

Visual learners learn best from information they can see or read. They prefer written instructions and visual aids to accompany verbal instructions. When working with visual learners, be sure to provide a variety of visual materials to facilitate the learning process such as visual aids during meetings e.g. graphs. Visual learners will also appreciate reading material to enable them to absorb and process information.[5]

This type of learner tends to make excellent artists or graphic designers, and feels right at home in online or remote work situations. They tend to work independently and will seek you out when they need you – try to avoid micromanaging them.[6]

  1. AUDITORY LEARNING

Auditory learning is a learning style in which a person learns and acquires new knowledge and information through listening. Auditory learners depend on hearing and speaking as their primary mode of learning and highly benefit from oral instruction.[7]

In the workplace, auditory learners will benefit most from oral presentations and group meetings because they are generally good listeners. One of the many strengths of auditory learners is that they are good at giving oral presentations and reports. Use this to the company’s advantage by having them make presentations during meetings.[8]

As a manager, remember to seek out the best ways to interact with your team. It may not be easy to cater to every individual’s learning style, however try to incorporate the various methods where possible. This will in turn produce better results from your team.

This kind of learner usually feels more comfortable when there’s background noise in their environments rather than a quiet, static environment. Give them the space to use headphones and music while working to aid their concentration. The key to successfully managing them is checking in frequently and talking through expectations.  

  1. VISUAL AND VERBAL LEARNING

This type of learner is very studious and thrives in a holistic learning environment where they can listen and look at information. Incorporating images in presentations and discussion will help re-enforce important information for this learning group. So be sure to use photos, graphs and infographics for key points and statistics.

This learner is usually great at doing research for projects and coming up with solutions, so assign them any in-depth work that comes up. These learners also tend to do well at public speaking and presentations, so you can rely on them to present their findings. They’re  also the ones who you can ask to recall any details you might’ve missed. [9]

When running a team, it’s important to note there’s no one-size fits all solution or approach. The best you can do is assign tasks and individuals where you’ve noticed they thrive. When distinguishing how to best manage your employees, communication is essential. Find out their learning styles and their ideal working environments and do you best to cater to these needs. Your team will certainly appreciate the effort and you’ll probably get more out of them.

Mshimba Michelle


[1] https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/resources/articles/4-different-types-workplace-learning-styles

[2] https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/kinesthetic-learning

[3] https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/resources/articles/4-different-types-workplace-learning-styles

[4] https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/02/15/understanding-different-learning-styles-workplace-part-1/

[5] https://elearningindustry.com/training-employees-according-learning-style

[6] https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/resources/articles/4-different-types-workplace-learning-styles

[7] http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-styles.shtml

[8] https://www.thoughtco.com/auditory-learning-style-p3-3212038

[9] https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/resources/articles/4-different-types-workplace-learning-styles

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