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Understanding the Different Types of Learner Profiles to Optimize Your Strategy

To optimize the contribution made by training and ensure it acts as a genuine springboard, it is important to understand your learner, their needs, and what motivates them. Our research helped us identify 4 of the most common learner profiles in the 4 countries included in the study.

Motivation can vary drastically by learner profile

LEARNER PROFILE 1: David, the Model Employee

This is the most commonly encountered learner profile, accounting for more than 50% of the sample


“Learning helps me do my job well, stay up to date and progress in my role”


  • David is always ready to learn more, while remaining aligned with the company’s vision. David learns best within a structured framework, and is able to set limits in terms of a good balance between professional and private life.
  • His priority remains to do a good job and make incremental progress. And to that end, training is a great way to overcome any shortcomings so that he can take on new assignments.
  • He is not particularly proactive in his choice of training, mainly following the goals set by the company.
  • He is fairly pragmatic and focused on the medium term, so ideally each training course should enable him to progress.

Basic needs:

  • To be supported and reassured that the training will be useful
  • To gain credibility and prove “his value” within the company
  • With regard to training: David appreciates seeing tangible results through immediate practical application of the skill and/or clear progress tracking (i.e. certification, salary increase)

LEARNER PROFILE 2: Nicholas, the Ambitious Perfectionist

“I fight my way up through the ranks to take my career forward, and set myself goals to get there.”


“Developing new skills means improving yourself, staying on top and sticking to the path you’ve set”


  • Nicholas is constantly redefining his goals and making quick progress up the corporate ladder.
  • He likes challenging his expertise with his peers.
  • He has more specific expectations of training: content with high added value.

Basic needs:

  • To be up to date and constantly stimulated, and ready to overcome new challenges
  • To surpass previous goals and be evermore effective
  • To be more visible and have achievements recognized within the company and moving up the career ladder

LEARNER PROFILE 3: Romy, the Explorer of Possibilities


“Learning new skills provides the means for transformation, and refreshing new perspectives”


  • Curiosity: Everything is a source of enrichment, sometimes even outside the world of the company.
  • More depth: “Romy” types are explorers who seek details, technical expertise, etc. in the subjects they cover.
  • Confidence in expertise: Romy is more at home in roles that highlight her field of expertise than in managerial roles.
  • New horizons: Training becomes a component of her development in a broader, and even more personal, sense.

Basic needs:

  • To assess and discover herself: to instigate changes
  • To be open to new ideas, and learn from the experience of others (problem-solution)
  • To grow through continuous learning in more general or strategic areas

LEARNER PROFILE 4: Joseph, the Emotional Leader

This profile only represented a small part of our sample.


“Learning new skills helps me to be an inspiring leader, and to grow as I help others to grow”


  • Highly involved in his work and his managerial role, Joseph has the strength of a visionary and is able to adapt.
  • Learning is a pillar to cement his expertise in previously unknown applications and domains.
  • Knowledge sharing is a key driver for him, a form of enrichment that can benefit others.
  • Training is not only seen in pragmatic, business-focused terms, but also from its human perspective.

Basic needs:

  • To discover new areas of expertise, through quality content that offers new opportunities for himself and inspiration for others
  • To create enthusiasm for learning and train his staff through ever greater specialization

Not everyone fits into the 4 key profiles

In addition to the main profiles described above, two more marginal learner profiles emerged.

Paul, the Minimalist

He is not particularly motivated by his work, and relatively passive. He rests on his past achievements to get by. His goal is to stay up to date just enough to do his job, with little effort towards improvement. His participation in training courses is minimal, mainly because he doesn’t want to dedicate the time.

Luna, the Chameleon

She looks at training as a way to transform or even reinvent herself.

“I want to change direction in my work, try something new and do something completely different.”

Although apparently less captive, she is open to transformation and is a potential vector for change – in herself and her company. In these particularly complex times, her flexibility is a real asset.

Your training programs should be designed for your learners

There is no such thing as “one size fits all” training. This is a very antiquated way to approach learning, given what we know about brain science. When you design your training programs, think about who your learners are, what motivates them, and how they learn. Personalized learning is more impactful to the learner, and ultimately more beneficial to the organization as a whole.

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Profiles International EA
Profiles International EA

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