Why Understanding Your Employees’ Learning Preferences Is Key To An Agile Workplace

by Catherine Mattiske · 17 feb 2022 · 5 min read
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Learning differences might lead to misperception, workplace conflict and cause an output delay. This then becomes a struggle for businesses looking to reach high-yielding goals.

Learn how to understand and influence different learning preferences in this article.

Some of the most productive work environments consist of team members who work exceptionally well together despite their differences. Working collectively with a group of people requires strong communication skills. However, not everyone naturally has those skills. Before becoming a solid communicator, it's crucial to connect with colleagues and understand how they prefer to learn new information. My company helps organizations navigate their learning needs, and in my experience, understanding different learning preferences can help business leaders and their employees overcome common miscommunication issues — all while improving agility to boost morale and productivity.

The Primary Problem With Agility In Many Workplaces

Most people probably wouldn't assume that agility can be a challenge in the workplace. But I've found that it's become an increasingly challenging issue among employees struggling to attain a level of harmony as they work alongside one another. The idea behind agility is to get everyone working well enough to create a seamless, stress-free process that leads to greater productivity and produces great results. Unfortunately, this becomes a struggle when people aren't on the same page due to different learning preferences.

Learning differences among employees impact a workplace for several reasons. For example, one individual on your team might not process the information given to them the same way as someone else, so they may react differently or take a unique approach when using that new information to take on tasks at work. In some instances, these learning differences might eventually lead to misperception, workplace conflict and cause an output delay. This then becomes a struggle for businesses looking to reach high-yielding goals.

Agile Adoption Organizationwide: Not Just For IT

Embracing agility within the software development area has been adopted as standard practice for some time. But it's not enough for businesses to simply practice agility within their technology functions. Instead, agile methods should be embraced organizationwide and across business functions, including research and development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and administration. 

Businesses often want to experience the rewards of agility, such as speed, productivity and engagement, but they don't always look at the bigger picture, such as the changes they'd need to make to achieve those desired results. If they're willing to look at the bigger picture, business leaders can create a more welcoming work environment that functions more effectively.

The Importance Of Understanding Unique Learning Preferences

Everyone has unique learning preferences. The sooner business leaders have a detailed understanding of these, the sooner they can expect to build productive teams with individuals who excel at their jobs.


Speed isn't everything, especially if companies are not providing the best learning environment. In some cases, it's necessary to slow things down and set a pace that works for all employees based on their learning preferences. When you understand the learning preferences of your employees, you can group people based on how they learn, which can help with the cohesiveness of your team. Once you've mastered the art of communication among employees, you can focus on improving other components that lead to agility, such as speed.


In other words, knowing a team member's learning and communication preference is an insight that helps business leaders rethink structures and processes used daily in the workplace. They can then align these structures and processes with their team's strengths. If business leaders are willing to dive deep into this, I believe they can improve efficiency and productivity without miscommunication and frustration delaying the output.

Using Learning And Communication Preferences To Accomplish Goals

Learning and growing in work environments requires self-awareness. Taking the time to identify each team member’s ability to learn and communicate provides a number of opportunities for leaders. If each team member can optimize the way they connect with individuals, they can ultimately improve communication within the team.

A great starting point is to meet with your employees and discuss their key learning attributes, their sweet spot for taking in new information and the strategies that accelerate their capacity to learn. For instance, someone might like to brainstorm practical solutions with real-life examples and find it useful to write personal and group action plans.

After connecting on a team level, you have the potential to unlock the collective power of the group by mapping these preferences across your team. Create a matrix that articulates and showcases the different learning and communication preferences within the group. When individuals are empowered with this knowledge, they can consciously apply it to daily interactions and improve the influence of their emails, meetings, business reports and presentations. In my experience, improving communication can result in people feeling heard, understood and appreciated. It may even help boost morale and optimize productivity in the workplace.

While some struggle with agility, the right influence can provide change. The best way to impact influence is to become a strong communicator with everyone within the workplace. Success and learning agility are driven by individuals collaborating as teams with a shared skill of learning, processing information, connecting with others, communicating and ultimately influencing.

about catherine

Global business educator and author Catherine Mattiske is the founder of TPC — The Performance Company, a leading training and consulting organization that has worked with Fortune 100 companies worldwide. Established in 1994, TPC has offices in Sydney, Los Angeles, New York, London, Singapore, and Basel (Switzerland). The author of more than 30 books, her latest is “Unlock Inner Genius: Power Your Path to Extraordinary Success” (September 2021). Discover more about your Inner Genius at thegeniusquotient.com.

original article published on forbes

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