Coaching the 4 HPLM Learner Types to Be High-Performance Learners

October 16, 2020

The aim of a manager is to coach all employees to become High-Performance Learners. There is no fail proof solution – rather a collection of ideas that Managers may use to influence participant motivation and provide learning support.

For team members who already display the learning type of High-Performance Learner it’s important the manager continues to coach them to maintain their High-Performance Learner status.
Maximizing High-Performance Learners – EXTEND


The High-Performance Learner already displays high levels of motivation towards learning. Also, the already apparent high levels of learning support fuel them to even greater learning achievement.

They have applied their learning on the job and are comfortable in their ability to do it well. High-Performance Learners may be coaching others in the team formally or informally. Due to their high level of motivation, they may explore more in-depth knowledge of the subject autonomously. The goal for managers is to extend High-Performance Learners to achieve higher levels of performance.

Ideas for Managing High-Performance Learners

  • Reward High-Performance Learners on their achievement.
  • Rewards may be as simple as a private conversation or highlighting their uptake of new skills to the rest of the team in a team meeting, or a tangible reward, if appropriate. Publicly rewarding the High-Performance Learner is an effective reward for them and also displays the manager’s commitment to implementing learning to the other members of the team.
  • Agree on learning goals. Discuss their Skill Development Action Plan. Ensure that each part of the learning program has a relevant action item. Ensure that each action item links to their role and their current and future projects.
  • Monitor their progress. towards successful implementation of their Skill Development Action Plan. Ensure that barriers that may get in their way of achieving their learning goals are removed.
  • Stretch learning goals. Where appropriate discuss ways of stretching their Skill Development Action Plan to further advancement. Perhaps partner them with an Abandoned or Passive Learner who will have a ‘buddy coaching role’. This form of co-operative learning may extend the High-Performance Learner and may also encourage their co-worker to increase their motivation for learning.
  • Discuss support mechanisms. Talk about what support is in place for them and how they may access the support.
  • Review progress and provide feedback. Ensure that regular meetings are scheduled to check in on their progress. Continuously provide encouragement.
Managing Independent Learners – ENGAGE


The Independent Learner displays high levels of motivation, however requires manager learning support in order to become a High-Performance Learner. Learners may have applied their learning on the job and are comfortable in their ability to do it well, however have probably not shared their learning with others.

If they have not applied their learning on the job, they may have completed the learning for their own personal benefit. In this regard, they have little or no intention of using their learning in their current role and may have attended the learning for future roles within their current organization or with a new organization.

The goal for Managers is to Engage Independent Learners, that is coach them to share their learning and be a part of the team to achieve higher levels of performance.

Ideas for managing Independent Learners

  • Discuss the learning program. Meet with the team member to discuss what happened during the learning program. Talk about what they learned and most importantly how their learning links to their current role. Acknowledge completion of the learning and reward their achievement appropriately.
  • Agree on learning goals. If they have developed a Skill Development Action Plan discuss the actions that they have listed. Ensure that the actions listed are relevant to their current role. If they have not developed a Skill Development Action Plan, work side-by-side with them to create it. Working together on this will send a strong message of support to the learner.
  • Monitor their progress towards goal achievement. Ensure that barriers that may get in their way of achieving their learning goals are removed.
  • Stretch learning goals. Where appropriate discuss ways of bringing the employee into the team. Perhaps partner them with an Abandoned or Passive Learner having them provide a ‘buddy coaching role’. Alternatively, they could work on developing new work plans, procedures or policies by partnering with a High-Performance Learner.  This form of co-operative learning may extend the Independent  Learner  and  may  encourage  their lower performing peers to increase their motivation for learning.
  • Discuss Support Mechanisms. Talk about what support is in place for the employee and how they may access the support.
  • Review Progress and Provide Feedback. Ensure that regular meetings are scheduled to check in on their progress. Continuously provide encouragement.
Managing Passive Learners – ENCOURAGE


The Abandoned Learner displays low levels of motivation, and has little support. They require manager encouragement in order to become a High-Performance Learner.

They are unlikely to have applied their learning on the job. In order to encourage an increase in their motivation, first the manager must display learning support for them

Ideas for managing Abandoned Learners

  • Discuss the learning program. Meet with the team member to discuss what happened during the learning program. Talk about how the learning program links to their current role. Discuss the ways the organization is displaying commitment to the program from their desk, technological support, how you as their manager have supported them or others, and so on.
  • Discover the underlying reasons for not implementing their learning. Candidly ask why they have not applied what they have learned. Answering this question may be difficult for Abandoned Learners to answer, however in order for them to progress the manager must uncover the reasons why a behavior change has not occurred.
  • Agree on learning goals. If they have developed a Skill Development Action Plan during the program discuss the actions that they have listed. Ensure that the actions listed are relevant to their current role. If they have not developed a Skill Development Action Plan, work side-by-side with them to create it. Working together on this will send a strong message of support to the learner.
  • Gain commitment to progress to action. Ensure that the employee verbally commits to implementing their Skill Development Action Plan and the timelines associated with it.
  • Monitor their progress towards goal achievement. Ensure that barriers that may get in their way of achieving their learning goals are removed.
  • Discuss support mechanisms. Talk about what support is in place for them and how they may access the support.
  • Review progress and provide feedback. Ensure that regular meetings are scheduled to check in on their progress. Continuously provide encouragement.
Managing Passive Learners – ENFORCE


The Passive Learner displays low levels of motivation despite having organizational and Managerial support. They require counselling in order to become a High-Performance Learner.

The Passive Learner has been given what is required by way of learning opportunity and support. Quite simply - they are not doing their job. Therefore, this issue is no longer a training issue, but an HR issue focused on their poor performance.

The Manager may counsel the employee using a formal HR process provided by the organization or an informal first-step approach to attempt to change their behavior. Also, the following conversation flow is provided as a first-step guide which aims to encourage employee motivation and create a High-Performance Learner.

Ideas for Managing Passive Learners

  • Discuss the learning program. Meet with the team member to discuss what happened during the learning program. Talk about how the learning program links to their current role. Discuss the ways the organization is displaying commitment to the program – financial investment, people’s time away from their desk, technological support, and so on.
  • Discover the underlying reasons for not implementing their learning. Candidly ask why they have not applied what they have learned. Again, like Abandoned Learners, uncovering the real reason for not implementing learning is critical.
  • Agree on learning goals. If they have developed a Skill Development Action Plan discuss the actions that they have listed. Ensure that the actions listed are relevant to their current role. If they have not developed a Skill Development Action Plan, work side-by-side with them   to create it. Working together on this will send a strong message of support to the learner.
  • Gain commitment to progress to action. Ensure that the employee verbally commits to implementing their Skill Development Action Plan and the timelines associated with it.
  • Monitor their progress towards goal achievement. Ensure that barriers that may get in their way of achieving their learning goals are removed.
  • Discuss Support Mechanisms. Talk about what support is in place for them and how they may access the support.
  • Review Progress and Provide Feedback. Ensure that regular meetings are scheduled to check in on their progress. Continuously provide encouragement.

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