"That's interesting! I never knew that!"
People with Learner in their top 5 StrengthsFinder results have a deep desire to learn new things. They are energized by the process of journeying from ignorance to competence.
For a Learner, the subject matter does not need to be a work or school requirement for their interest to be piqued. In fact, it may even be considered random in the eyes of others. The genius of the Learner talents is that the desire to learn is often matched by an intuitive ability to pick things up quickly.
Those with Learner deeply resonate with the idea of lifelong learning. From a young age, their curiosity leads them to seek answers to questions that intrigue them. They enjoy asking questions. Many of them sign up for training courses and participate in various activities in order to gain new knowledge and skills.
As students, those with Learner tend to be more motivated by their own curiosity than to please others or to earn good grades. The idea of learning carries on even after graduation. For the Learner, it is important that tasks at work give the opportunity to pick up new skills and new knowledge. When they acquire new skills and observe their own growth, they feel more successful and their desire to learn increases. Learners can quickly become disengaged in their jobs if they find themselves in a place where they are plateauing.
Alicia Ng, our in-house Research and Development Analyst of Strengths School™ Singapore, has Learner as her top StrengthsFinder theme. She recalls one of her best days at work as the day she got to work on a research project. That project required her to learn how to use a video camera and to record a live interview. In the process, she learnt the different aspects of video recording, how to coach someone to “act naturally” in front of the camera, and how to do video-editing. She shared that it gives her great satisfaction when a job task allows her to watch and learn from others, and then to subsequently further the learning process by herself to complete the task. She prefers challenges that increase her learning over easy work that does not enhance her skills and knowledge. One of the ways she gains confidence is to redo a particular task after receiving some coaching feedback. This way, she feels like her effort contributes to a better performance, and her work also improves.
How can a person with Learner turn this talent into a Strength? Here are a few suggestions:
1. TEACH OTHERS
Learners will naturally absorb new knowledge and pick up new skills to satisfy their intrinsic desires. However, for one to intentionally grow this talent into maturity, one of the key ways is to impart their learnings to others.
“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher, Seneca. It is reported through research that students who tutor others work harder to understand the material and apply it more effectively. Teaching others brings learning to an entirely new level of competency. Many students who teach others score higher on tests than students who are learning only for their own sake. Scientists call this “the protégé effect.” Learners who teach others are more likely to grow effectively and engage this talent productively for work.
2. SET INTEGRATED GOALS
For Learners, the goal of learning should be tied to a wider objective. For example, students can be coached to tie their natural goal of learning to the goal of achieving proficient grades in school assignments. After a piece of schoolwork has been graded and returned, Learners can be encouraged to seek out clear feedback on what they have done well and which areas of learning can be improved. This way, instead of seeing grades as separate from the learning process, the grades received will become more meaningful and useful to Learners as a reflection of their progress toward learning goals. Learners will thus be better able to connect their desire to learn with the aim of improving their grades in school.
In the workplace, the goal of learning for an individual can be tied together with the goal of performing well for the team or organization. For different job tasks, Learners should identify areas where they are motivated to gain further knowledge and skill sets in order to increase their performance. Training courses and mentorship opportunities can be undertaken for the Learners to meet their need for continuous learning and improvement. At the same time, individuals and bosses can agree upon areas of evaluation and feedback that will review work performance as well as learning goals in an integrated way. The synergy between the work objectives and the learning goals is more likely to generate outcomes that will benefit both the individual and the wider team.
3. SEEK COMPLEMENTARY PARTNERSHIPS
Partner those with Focus
People with Focus instinctively evaluate whether a particular action will help a person move toward his goal. Partnering those with Focus allows the Learners to clarify their learning goals and better direct their planned actions. This ensures their learning is focused and that it will move them toward their goals compared to learning in a haphazard manner. This is especially important in environments where lots of learning opportunities exist. The hunger to learn and absorb new knowledge can actually work against them if there is no clarity of learning goals. Directed learning or focused learning will increase the Learner's effectiveness.
Partner those with Individualization
People with Individualization focus on the differences between individuals. They instinctively observe each person’s style, each person’s motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. Partnering those with Individualization empowers the Learner to understand the different ways people learn effectively so that approaches can be customized. This partnership can be especially helpful for teachers with the Learner theme. For managers with the Learner theme, leveraging the knowledge and keen observations of those with Individualization will provide greater understanding of the learning needs of different staff.
Partner those with Connectedness
People with Connectedness can intuitively make sense of how things are interlinked and related for a purpose. Partnering with Connectedness helps Learners to explore taking the knowledge and skill sets that they have to serve a wider group or community. Often, with the help of those with Connectedness, Learners are able to see more connections between themselves and others, and appreciate how the different learnings they have picked up can be instrumental and powerful to impact society. Through networking with others, Learners can be encouraged to impart their knowledge and skill sets to those who are hungry to learn more.
Concluding thoughts: People with the Learner theme contribute powerfully to any organization because of their desire to gain new knowledge and perspectives and their ability to take on new challenges. You can count on Learners to be the stabilizing core of any dynamic team because of their natural ability to quickly learn the ropes and carry out the necessary tasks effectively.