Learning & Development

Unlocking the Candy Cabinet

Master Performers in the L&D Space


By Jenn Kammerdiener
October 12, 2023

While recording an episode for Clearpath’s upcoming L&D podcast, I had the always-welcome opportunity to talk with Guy Wallace, an important mentor of mine and the first to introduce me to his ideas around Master Performers. In the workplace, these are the high achievers who take ownership of their roles in an organization. They embrace learning, communication, and company vision. It’s easy to find them. They regularly step forward.

Master Performers teach L&D professionals what we need to know to do our job, simply by doing theirs

These individuals best understand the inner workings of a business. They hold keys to doors of all kinds.

Guy’s lessons have always resonated. This particular one hit home in an unexpected way. Turns out I’d been tracking the premise since the age of eight.

I was sitting in the third grade at my small elementary school. We were getting ready to receive some non-English-speaking families from another country. My teacher at the time was paying attention to how to integrate and teach them from within our already English-speaking classroom.

She chose a bold new approach. My clever teacher looked around, pointed to a few of us, and said ‘I would like you, you, and you to stay after school and meet with me’. Perhaps I would have volunteered without a bribe, but she offered us chocolate. I would do anything for a candy bar in those days. So, I stayed behind that afternoon and joined her special little committee.

As she explained what she was doing, we began to realize that we’d been selected because we were ‘masters’ of the English language within her classroom. The plan was to have us decide and determine how these children could learn to speak like third-graders. In retrospect, I find this fascinating and so very smart.

I think about that all the time when I consider the importance of identifying and utilizing master performers as an L&D professional. I actually experienced it from the other side, as a child in a classroom. My teacher chose to take good advantage of our third-grade enthusiasm and command of the English language appropriate for a young person. We would help her help them. Our new classmates would learn our language by reading and speaking with us.

As L&D practitioners, we engage master performers to simulate all the inputs, the outputs, the expected outcomes, and so forth. It’s how we work.

When we start asking questions of a client and of their business, we should ask to speak with their master performers.

These eager individuals have found ways and means to excel. They understand the inner workings of a process we must get to understand ourselves. This is one of the fastest ways to gather essential data.

Start with those who hold the answers and the insight. Always start there. Always start with performance.



Jenn Kammerdiener, Founder and CEO, Clearpath Learning Group

Jenn is a Global Learning & Performance Architect with more than 20 years of business strategy and executive consulting experience. She’s led vital initiatives for Fortune 1000 to 100 organizations across industries with a systematic approach to org design, change management, and learning path objectives. In 2009, Jenn launched Clearpath to provide world-class performance solutions and services with a team approach. Under her leadership, Clearpath’s reach has grown to extend beyond 250,000 learners globally.