In the old SHRM learning material, in Module 3, we learned that there are three routes by which people learn or acquire information. These are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Generally everyone uses all three, barring some disability, and which one is best for learning depends on the task being taught or communicated. For example, it is tough to learn auto mechanics through listening to a lecture. The question is do you think about that as you are communicating to people? Or are you communicating in the style you prefer?
Most of us are visual
Research has shown that the general US population is 70% visual, 20% auditory and 10% kinesthetic. That means your employee population, unless you have found out differently, is probably much like this. Are you making sure your communication reflects this? Shelby Rogers, of the Wicker Park Group, says that attorneys don’t do a good job of this. He says attorneys are ”20% visual learners, 70% auditory and 10% kinesthetic.” As a result they make heavy use of oratory in a courtroom talking to a jury that is most likely 70% visual. (If you ever have to go to court you may want to point that out to your defense attorney.) Roger says “The way around this challenge is recognition of the problem and then a more balanced approach in your oral presentation that includes visual information (documents, presentations, blackboard) as well as adding kinesthetic evidence (scale models).”
Works of HR and management too
The same principle of communication works for HR and management, especially management. Managers have a tendency to “tell” employees rather than “show” and then wonder why the employee did not learn and has to be told again. HR uses primarily a visual mode, with memos and published documents but often misses the other methods and subsequently misses employees who prefer other methods.
One way you can alter the method of communication, is to produce a document, and then record a brief YouTube video explaining the new policy. You could even produce your own internal podcast.
The point of this blog
The point of this post is to get you to start thinking about how you communicate to others. Are you even aware of how your employees prefer to get information or do you just give it to them in the manner you are most comfortable with? If you are having trouble getting a message across perhaps you need to pick a different way.
Think about it.