Learning Styles

A cursory understanding of how people learn is essential to effective training. Without getting into too many details, we will loosely define the types of learning styles. A learning style is simply the way an individual learns most successfully. The generally accepted idea is that each learning style uses a different part of the brain and the more parts of the brain we can engage, the better we retain information.

Although we are capable of utilizing multiple learning styles, everyone has a preferred style that guides the way the individual learns. The theory goes that if the trainer can identify the employee’s preferred learning style, the training can be tailored to that style thereby maximizing the employee’s retention.

Depending on the source, there are a number of different learning styles and associated tools a trainer can employ to improve their training experience. In the simplest terms, they are defined as follows:

Visual Learners: These folks learn by seeing. They are likely to take a lot of notes during training sessions. Their training can be improved by providing handouts and utilizing charts, diagrams, or flow charts to organize information. Trainers may also wish to use stories to “paint” a picture for these learners.

Auditory Learners: This employee is an attentive listener and will easily glean essential information from lecture-style training. Their training experience can be enhanced by allowing them to “talk through” different concepts. They will also benefit from side-by-side call monitoring with a teammate.

Verbal Learners: Verbal learners are expressive individuals who use written or spoken words to great success. They benefit from role-playing during their training and will appreciate a written training guide.

Physical or Kinesthetic Learners: Hands-on learners are those that learn by active participation. They may want to navigate the computer while you explain what’s happening. They are eager to “jump in” rather than listen to a lecture. Find ways for this employee to interact with the training. Role-playing will be helpful.

Logical Learners: Logical learners are those that work well with numbers and structure. Your logical employee may have trouble with a training style that has little continuity, jumping from topic to topic. The logical learner can also get hung up on details. It’s important for the trainer to explain why you do things the way you do, as this style appreciates background and rationale to understand the underlying concept.

Social Learners: Supervisors love social learners as they have the ability to learn in a one-on-one environment or from their peers. They benefit from asking questions of team members so trainers may augment their training with side-by-side training. They are great mentors and superb listeners.

Solitary Learners: People that need time to process information are often solitary learners. They might need some time alone to digest their training, preferring to re-read their notes or training manual after each session. Self-study is an effective way to train solitary learners. Allow them to research training topics such as ordinances or policies on their own, meeting with them afterward to clarify their understanding.

Our preferred learning style does not inhibit other methods of learning. Overall learning capacity is an amalgam of our preferred style and bits of every other learning style. In fact, our learning style may differ depending on the subject matter. Additionally, we have the facility to develop our less dominant learning styles. Evaluate your training topics and look for opportunities to deploy your information in exciting new ways, accessing all the different learning styles. You will produce interesting, memorable training sessions and eager employees.

Common Collector Training Styles

Training methods vary depending on the type of business, the size of the office, and the experience of the trainee. Collection training can be conducted in a variety of ways but there are some protocols that lend themselves particularly well to collections.

Classroom style: If you’re hiring a number of collectors at once, the classroom is the best place to train a group. Your training manual will help guide your discussions and you’ll want to leave plenty of time for questions and answers.

One-on-one: In a smaller office, training is likely conducted one-on-one by a supervisor or senior member of the team. One-on-one training really allows you to focus the material based on the employee’s current knowledge and their learning style. Additionally, it’s a great way to get to know your new team member. An astute trainer may notice personality traits, habits, or other behavioral qualities that can be useful later.

Roleplay: Role-playing or scenario training serves a number of purposes. Among other functions, role playing is a practical method for teaching company specific rules or policies. It’s also a creative way to get a sense of how your collector will problem-solve or handle customer interactions. Role playing can be conducted in groups or one-on-one but it’s recommended that you have some scenarios and desired outcomes prepared ahead of time. Vary the scenarios between mock phone calls and routine office situations, like how to process a credit bureau or update an account. You may also want to include some conflict resolution scenarios to help the trainee understand your expectations for resolving disagreements within the office.

Side-by-side monitoring: Your existing staff can play an important role in the training process. Their participation fortifies their investment in the new employee’s success and allows the new employee to become part of the team quickly. Many phone systems allow a second headset to be plugged in so the trainee can listen in on live calls. By using your most accomplished collectors, you are teaching acceptable phone etiquette and reinforcing policy and procedure.

Mentoring: You team has diverse strengths so capitalize on them by allowing different team members to take on aspects of the trainee’s education. Detail-oriented team members do an excellent job teaching procedures for accomplishing daily tasks. Some team members have strong computer skills and will be happy to teach your trainee about the software. Other collectors are deft communicators and can reinforce proper phone techniques in your office.

Supervisors should make themselves available throughout the training process to answer questions and monitor progress. Team or classroom training is no substitute for the attention of the supervisor or manager when it comes to feeling part of the team.