6 Ways To Use Your Learning Data To Identify Talent

6 Ways To Use Your Learning Data To Identify Talent
Summary: There will be a business case behind any training or learning initiative in an organization. And, with the increased pressure on HR and Training teams to demonstrate value add, is it time we started to share our lovely learning data to identify talent as well?

How To Use Your Learning Data To Identify Talent In Your Organization

With Big Data upon us, your LMS, CMS, PMS, TMS, MOOC, and SAAS systems (check glossary of terms at the bottom of the article) may not all talk together, but that doesn’t mean you can’t correlate the date to understand if there are links between learning, performance, and talent. This has many benefits in building a more data-driven approach to talent or learning development, as well as insights into how and why your people engage in your learning interventions. So, here are 6 ways you can use your learning data to identify talent in your organization.

1. Support New Hires

When it comes to recruitment, there are those people that work out, and those that don’t, but the process can be arduous for the managers and the candidates. Recruitment software is the rage, but aside from that your CMS/LMS could support identify who has read the materials, completed the forms and engaged with your green room if you have one.

A green room is a way to add users upfront, when the contracts are sent out (or even before), in an isolated area of your LMS that gives them limited visibility of the functions, but just enough so you can track engagement. You can welcome them informally online and begin the transition process before they even start. Perhaps keep it simple, with a company video, and the paperwork, and then enhance it over time with team videos or building walk throughs. Use the data to track engagement, and identify possible issues as soon as possible, as well as send out a message about how you do things "around here" for your new talent hires.

2. Onboarding 

Having a system to track the danger signs of a disengaged new starter may be the opportunity you need to turn it all around. Perhaps they have not completed their induction online yet, or filled in their BIO on the company intranet.

Having a sweeper system in place to engage with them and find out what is going on could open up serious concerns too. Perhaps an overbearing manager is not allowing them the time to integrate properly, or complete the necessary steps? Perhaps work load is so high that they do not feel they can spend time completing the necessary steps? Perhaps they are not convinced safety or compliance courses are worthwhile?

On the other hand, they could jump at the chance to learn online, get really excited by development opportunities and seek more by contacting you through your integrated forum.

I know which one will be in my little book of talent!

3. Transferrable Skills 

When it comes to the reason for hiring / employing, I have not heard many managers say they did it because of the transferrable skills they had. Often, instead it is because the candidate or employee has the relevant experience to do the job.

However, assuming they have the necessary qualifications and are performing in their role, those who seek to complete transferrable skillsets on your LMS may be ones to watch. My data sets told me recently that 10% of the population had completed 100% of the soft-skills eLearning modules on the system. This did not correlate precisely with the company’s talent list, but about 60% of people were on both lists. This does not mean that if you simply do all the courses you will be talent, but I would say it does demonstrate a behavioral trait of high potentials that learning regularly, even outside your specialist field, broadens your outlook and therefore your value to the organization.

4. Competencies And Performance Reviews 

Your system may track competencies, and I am sure you can tell me what percentage of them an individual has demonstrated as part of their performance review. However, have you thought about correlating output from reviews with your LMS? Interestingly this can yield some trends too. Perhaps high performers do not have the time to complete training? Or is it the low ones? Perhaps your talent never does any online training because they think they do not need to. Perhaps you should ask them!

This is a great way to let people know they are being supported, by engaging in meaningful dialogue about a system that could support the individual’s career.  It is critical to you too; to discover the reasons your talent is, or is not, engaging with key systems.

5. Management And Leadership 

If I had a pound for every manager that has said to me “I need training” and when asked “What for” they can’t answer, then I would be a gazillionaire!

OK, slight exaggeration, but interestingly most managers who have not had much training have also not spent long researching or considering it either. They come to HR/Learning and ask for training because they literally “don’t know what they don’t know” (like the fact that the stairs of consciousness is not from Mazlow, but instead from Gordon International Training – click here if you don’t believe me).

"The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare."
– Thane Yost

So, using your LMS to help them identify areas of learning based on their test scores can also support you identify who has the “will to prepare to succeed” and, therefore, with any luck the agility to do so too!

6. Talent Matrices 

Finally, the talent matrix* itself can utilize your LMS and CMS data to grow your objective measures for talent.

(*If you are using McKinsey 9 box Grid, beware: There are many problems when using it to capture or identify your talent, but for the purposes of this article, let’s assume we are using it).

Objective data is hard to come by, and is often supplemented with subjective conjecture when discussing talent, but LMS and CMS data can provide a light relief. Consider pulling assessment records, assignment scores, utilization, and usage rates as ways of demonstrating learning agility for future or aspiring leaders, as well as highlighting what can be done to support poor performers, or turn core employees into growth, high impact, or trusted professionals.

A strategy for support is as useful as a nomination or sponsorship of a key employee, and remember there is nothing worse than doing nothing once all this work has gone into identifying talent in the first place.


Our data houses often sit apart when it comes to talent and learning, even when it is the same person in a small organization (or a single HRM generalist). This happens because we may not see the links between them, or have time to explore them. I would ask you however to consider the value of using learning data to identify talent as a way to enhance your current offer and improve your talent proposition.


Glossary of terms:

  • LMS – Learning Management System
  • CMS – Content Management System
  • PMS – Performance Management System
  • TMS – Talent Management System
  • MOOC – Massive Open Online Courses
  • SAAS – Software as a Service
  • BIO – Biography (often on community software profiles for users)