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Idea Box: Catering to Different Learning Styles Can Improve Safety Meeting Effectiveness
Improve Meeting Effectiveness by Teaching to Different Employee Learning Styles
Date Posted: 3/1/2017
Most of us recognize that safety meetings are important as well as necessary, but are they always effective? Possibly not if you have not stopped to consider that not all people learn information the same way or at the same pace.
One of the most basic things teachers learn in their education programs is that different people have different learning styles. What does this mean exactly? Well in a nutshell, it means that one person may not really grasp something well unless they get to see a visual such as a chart or diagram, while someone else may be more of a tactile learner who really needs to do something with their hands to really catch on fully. Still someone else can learn easily just by hearing verbal information.
Most of us learn using a combination of all of these, but it’s important to recognize that everyone is different. For example, you may have two employees sitting side by side at a safety meeting, and one may grasp something you’ve covered in a meeting quickly the first time you go over it verbally, while the other may need to have you draw a diagram on the whiteboard or show them a video before they fully understand what you’re trying to get across.
To make your meetings more effective, you should try to include something for each learning style whenever possible. For example, if you’re explaining how to turn off a piece of equipment during an emergency, you could first explain verbally what should happen, and then follow up with a written list explaining the protocol or photos showing where switches are located. Then you could have employees walk over to the equipment, demonstrate the procedure for them and then let each one practice it.
While it may not be possible to include something for each learning style with every topic you cover, it’s important that you’re at least aware that some people learn differently and at a different pace than others. Also be aware that language barriers for workers with native languages other than English can also make it harder for them to learn, especially if they’re only given verbal instructions in English.
When safety is at stake, it’s especially important that everyone understands what’s being said so be sure to allow some extra training or time for those who may not catch on as fast or who have language barriers. A great way to do this is to pair or group employees in teams, where at least one member understands the training and can explain it to their peers in their own native tongue, if possible.
Also, to ensure that everyone really understands what you’ve covered, test participants or have them demonstrate their understanding in some way at the close of each meeting. This not only reinforces what they’ve learned, but can also be a good indicator to you of whether or not additional training on the topic is needed.