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Use Learner Persona Templates to Tailor Your Development Strategy

Take a human-centric approach to your learning and development strategy

Marketing Manager Matt, Baby Boomer Barbara, Salesperson Sally, Millennial Maddie. In this blog you'll see how Learner personas provide a tailored look at different segments in your organization. Then make sure to download our free learner persona template you can use to build your own personas and customize your learning and development initiatives.

Get the Learner Persona Template and customize your learning and development initiatives.

In today's digital world, detailed buyer personas have become more than just a tool for the marketing department. They've migrated to learning and development departments. Just like buyer personas in the sales and marketing world, learner personas are fictional representations of your group of learners, or the employees within your organization. 

As learner personas are created and shared across your organization it helps ensure everyone takes a human and tailored approach with employees.

Strike a chord across multiple teams and generations

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"A persona is the single most effective way to generate and spread empathy throughout an organization."

If you want people to engage with your learning and development programs, you need to make sure your program resonates. You need to design, communicate, structure and deliver your learning and development program in a way that strikes a chord across diverse roles and multiple generations.

In-depth learner personas are a great first step toward a highly customized learning and development, or employee development strategy. Entire groups of employees can be captured in just a few personas. This can simplify program design because it will keep you focused on the individuals captured in each persona.

To be most effective, learner personas must correctly represent the individuals you're striving to develop. In return, you'll have the tools to:

  • See at a glance the pain points and frustrations that need attention in your organization
  • Understand individual needs and strengths 
  • Help developers stay in alignment with the individuals they're designing programs for

Spread empathy throughout your organization

Harvard Business Review sums it up nicely when they say, “A persona is the single most effective way to generate and spread empathy throughout an organization.”

Empathy, put loosely, is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes. Personas allow you to do just that. A well-designed learner persona will give you a better understanding of the real goals, values, obstacles, dreams and learning styles of the people within your organization. Once you can easily identify and discuss their attributes, you’ll be able to take a customized approach with each group.

A tailored approach to employee learning and development lets your employees know you care about them as individuals. Once people know you care, you shouldn't be surprised to see improvements in things like employee satisfaction, engagement, production and retention, just to name a few.

After you've built your personas you’ll be amazed at the almost infinite number of applications available. Beyond learning and development, here’s just a few of the areas you’ll be able to apply your personas: 

Compensation plans
Benefits packages
Team building activities
Internal communication
Engagement Activities
Recruiting the right fits
Training programs
Employee Development
Seating Charts
Org. Culture Considerations 


Alright, I get it. Learner personas are important. How do I actually make them?

learner persona

 Download our free Learner Persona Template and get started making custom personas for your organization.

To ensure your learner personas are as accurate as possible you should first group your learners. Some easy starting points may be to group people by generation, seniority or department.  

“If we’re going to make this a trip worth taking, we need to build a deep understanding of the people on our journey. Their satisfaction depends on us knowing their skills and goals. Are they engineers, teachers, or acrobats? What are their hopes, dreams, commitments, fears and struggles?”  —Brian Salts-Halcomb, who works with customers to create custom personas everyday.

Once you have your groups laid out you can schedule interviews to make sure your personas are the best possible representations of real your people.

During those interviews you'll need to collect a variety of information. Here’s an abbreviated list of the information we look for when we work with customers to build in-depth personas.

(Hint: If you don't have time to do a lot of interviews, or you have a large and diverse group, you can use tools like SurveyMonkey to collect information about your learners.)

 Get the full list and see a completed example. Click here to download the Learner Persona Template.

  • Generation
  • Job title / seniority
  • Team or group
  • Number of children
  • Who they listen to
  • How they communicate
  • Learning goals
  • Education
  • Career phase
  • Salary
  • Goals
  • What blogs they read
  • Favorite social media
  • Development goals
  • Values
  • Challenges
  • Pain points
  • Frustrations
  • Tech proficiency
  • How they measure success
  • How often they meet with their boss


Once you have the info, take some time to synthesize that information into easily digestible paragraphs about each learner. This will give you the bite size chunks you need to make it easy to discuss each persona. Here’s an example of how that might look:

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Personas are a great way to know your people so you can tailor your approach to their styles and needs. 

Learner personas allow you to design development programs that resonate with your employees. You're able to create programs that focus on their core motivations and challenges. This attention to detail helps your employees feel more valued in the workplace. We invite you to download our free template and start developing learner personas today.

Download the template