Leveraging Learning Styles

How Learning Styles Helped Us Create a Global Top 10 L&D Function

When I joined AmeriCredit, it provided subprime automobile loans across the USA and Canada. The company had 1,800 employees, on its way to a 4,000 strong workforce two and a half years later. AmeriCredit was on Fortune magazine’s list of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in the USA. The many site locations across North America made its rapid rise in the Learning & Development world quite unique and a major challenge.

L&P’s strategy, combined with our internal success, resulted in the Chief Learning Officer being added to AmeriCredit’s Executive Team.

A friend of mine had just been appointed Chief Learning Officer, and I joined him at AmeriCredit three months later, as the Vice President, Learning & Organisational Effectiveness. At that time, the company’s training efforts consisted of three trainers on telephone etiquette. Together, the five of us started up AmeriCredit’s Learning function. We had a “clean slate” for designing an L&D function.

Here is how we incorporated the methodology of learning styles, a.k.a. learning preferences, as a critical component in creating one of the leading L&D functions both in the USA and internationally.

The challenges we Faced

The strategy for what we named the Learning & Performance (L&P) Department emerged from the following factors:

  • there was a sizeable and pressing need to develop skills in both management and non-management team members. Lesser developed skills were sufficient when growth was fast, but would be questionable to keep loan delinquency rates low during any major downward turn in the economy;
  • most of AmeriCredit’s employees were located in five customer care centres, positioned across North America. In addition, there were over 90 loan origination offices, each with 4-6 personnel near automobile dealers, who were their customers;
  • eLearning would be essential to reach such scattered employee locations;
  • statistically, 70-75 percent of potential learners exit eLearning courses without completing such training modules;
  • globally, most Instructor-Led-Training (ILT) and eLearning do not match how individuals prefer to learn; instructional design normally includes just one or two learning styles, leading to learner boredom and exiting training modules before completing them;
  • furthermore, most instructional design involves presenting content, directly followed by measuring immediate retention;
  • AmeriCredit had only three trainers for its five customer care centres. We learned 15 months later of one who handled the 90+ loan origination offices;
  • managers were frequently not sending their employees to courses for which they were scheduled.

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