Soft skills

Outcome-based training for key talent: the no-fail formula

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Outcome based training for key talents

As catalysts for business success, your managers are your most crucial asset. According to Gartner, increasing leader and manager effectiveness is the number-one priority for HR leaders in 2023.1

However, with so much pressure on their time – and your L&D budgets – it can be difficult to develop their full potential. That’s where outcome-based training comes in: a learning approach that focuses on achieving specific outcomes, in contrast to traditional training programs that focus on single skills. In other words, identify the issues that your managers face, and then match these to the skill sets needed to resolve them.

In this article, we share our no-fail four-step formula for delivering effective outcome-based training for the needle movers in your organization.

Step 1: Start with the outcome

To design the best outcome-based training programs, you need to start with the end goal in mind. This means identifying the key skills and competencies needed to achieve your business outcomes. By focusing on outcomes, you can design programs that address specific skill gaps or business challenges faced by managers and other key talent.
And, on a human level, when learners know what they can achieve, they are more motivated to learn as they are more likely to be engaged and motivated when they can see the value and impact of the training on their work.

Step 2: Maximize impact in limited time

The top performers in your organization often have limited time and immediate needs. So, your programs must deliver maximum impact in a short time frame. Concentrate on the skills that your key talent can immediately put into practice and focus on the most critical business needs first. Facilitated learning, which blends outcome-oriented content with expert facilitation to create engaging cohort-based learning experiences, is an effective way to implement this type of training.

This approach ensures that your needle movers are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to tackle real-world business challenges. It also makes learning more cost-effective versus traditional learning, since it can be delivered more flexibly.

Step 3: Leverage group learning

Group learning is another effective way to maximize the results of outcome-based training. This approach involves bringing together key talent from across your organization to learn from one another and share experiences. Crucially, this provides opportunities for collaboration, networking, feedback, and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, all of which can increase engagement and innovation.

Another advantage of group learning is that it expands the diversity of perspectives. When high-potential individuals from different departments and backgrounds come together to learn, they bring with them a wider range of knowledge, experience, and ideas to positively benefit your business.

Step 4: Measure and optimize outcomes

To continuously improve outcome-based training, you should set clear metrics for success. These can be regularly evaluated to measure the impact of your training strategy on your learners and the organization.

Informative and actionable data not only helps you identify what is working and what isn’t, but also enables you to make the improvements you need for future training initiatives. This might involve revising the content of the training, adjusting the delivery method, or even changing your training strategy.

A Wiley Workplace Intelligence report found that 63% of executives preferred in-person, outcome-based facilitated learning.2

Characteristics of outcome-based training 

  • Learner-focused: Include engaging content activities, curated by learning experts 
  • Cohort-based: Feature a strong peer-to-peer element, with content contextualized to your organization 
  • Facilitator-led: Provide one-on-one guidance and virtual sessions packed with purposeful interaction

Outcome-based training is a powerful tool to help you equip your needle movers with the skills and knowledge they need to guide others and drive the business forward. The best outcome-based programs are not only designed to fulfill a desired end result, but they also need to respond to the need for efficiency, collaboration, and continual measurement and optimization.

It’s only by creating programs which address the multiple skills needed to achieve specific outcomes, that you can simultaneously meet the needs of your key talent and your business.

Explore how Evonik transformed their L&D program to empower new managers on their leadership journey.


1. Gartner Survey Reveals Leader and Manager Effectiveness Tops HR Leaders’ List of Priorities for 2023. Gartner, 2023.

2. Harness the Power of Human Connection with Facilitated Learning.
Everything Disc (Wiley), 2022.