How to Deal With a Slow Learner in the Workplace

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Yelling at your slow learner could prevent her from asking questions later.
Yelling at your slow learner could prevent her from asking questions later. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Not all employees learn at the same pace; training methods must be tailored to the individual for whom the training is intended. Slow learners are not necessarily bad workers or unintelligent. Your job as a manager or executive is to get the best performance from your employees, and doing so might require additional education on your part regarding methods for dealing with slow learners. Discover ways to motivate and encourage the slow learner in your company.

Keep your cool and do not yell at your slow learner in the workplace. Creating a hostile workplace environment will make your employee nervous and hesitant. Speak calmly and patiently explain any concepts that are difficult for your slow learner to understand.

Ask your employee how she learns best. Your employee might seem like a slow learner because she does not retain visual information immediately, or she might have a hearing problem that prevents auditory information from sinking in. If your employee learns best from practice exercises or hands-on-training, tailor your orientation or training to accommodate those methods.

Use a formal training approach when teaching your slow learner. Formal training consists of more one-on-one teaching and hands-on techniques. Unlike informal training, which consists of self-taught lessons and take-home information packets, formal training focuses the slow learner's attention toward you at all times. Like a private tutor, you can immediately answer questions that the employee has and reinforce information with visual demonstrations and verbal communication.

Ask your slow learner questions constantly throughout the learning process. If your employee does not understand a concept, teaching information based on that concept is worthless. Encourage questions from your slow learner with responses such as "That's a great question" and "I'm glad you asked that." If your employee is comfortable asking questions, you can address problems immediately instead of finding out later that he did not grasp the initial concepts.

Create achievement goals and rewards for your slow learner to increase self-esteem and motivation. If your slow learner attains a goal, acknowledge the achievement with positive reinforcement or a lunch. The positive reinforcement and visible achievement encourage the employee to "hit the books" and try a bit harder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice patience with your slow learner. Discovering the teaching methods best suited for your employee could be cheaper than hiring someone else.

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