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There Are Three Different Styles of Learning

“You’ll shoot your eye out … You’ll shoot your eye out.”

If you are a fan of A Christmas Story, you’ll recognize that these are the words that Ralphie heard when he declared his desire for a Red Ryder BB gun. Well, I almost put my eye out on Saturday.

When I got home Friday night there was a FedEx package at the front door. I couldn’t wait to open it. (I felt like Ralphie grabbing his new Red Ryder!) It was a new weed-eater. I got it out of the box and disregarded the directions because I am terrible at reading directions. I don’t know why … I know I’m not stupid. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put something together only to find I had three bolts, six washers and two nuts left.

Because I start assembling anything by looking at the last picture and trying to figure out what goes where based on that picture, I almost put my eye out. Of course, I wasn’t wearing the safety glasses the directions said are mandatory. I didn’t install the cutting line like they showed in one of the earlier pictures, as well as it was detailed in the manual, and a piece of the line flew off just missing my eye gouging my cheek in the process.

This brings me to things week’s theme: Leaders make sure they insist that their technicians embrace safety measures. Leaders train their technicians using several training methods

Go back in your memory and think of all the accidents or potential accidents that happened at your shop. How many were due to carelessness or a lack of following safety procedures?

Are you anal when it comes to making sure your staff embraces safety procedures? Do you emphasize it in every meeting? Do you have an employee manual with a section on safety? You can’t assume that employees understand the need for safety like you do. What does workman’s compensation cost you? What happens if one of your employees goes down for a month or two because they are careless? How much does that potentially affect your business?

Here’s how adults learn: tell me, show me and let me try. You might have also learned it as visual (seeing), audio (hearing) and kinesthetic (physically doing something).

Visual: If you give me some directions to read I’m probably not going to get it right. There will be bolts left over or I’ll miss something important and almost put my eye out. How many of your employees are like that? Do you even know?

Audio: This training technique works better for me. You might have to tell me one time or seven—but, personally, it is overwhelmingly better than visual. Others might do better learning visually through a manual.

Kinesthetic: There is no doubt that this helps people the most because the “learner” actually has to do the task before going to the job site.

You might be asking why I’ve gone into depth about this. It comes to leadership. Great leaders understand that it is their duty to go the extra mile to make sure the employee learns—regardless of their learning style.

Hey, can any of you show me how to get the flashing “12” off my VCR? The instruction book just doesn’t make sense to me!

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