Call us today 1-800-223-2209
Email Us

Langevin's Train-the-Trainer Blog

5 Tips for Handling the “Problem” Instructor

Posted by Paul Sitter on 2/17/14 3:00 AM
Find me on:

As a training manager, have you ever had an instructor who didn’t “cut the mustard?” Maybe the instructor’s evaluations were a bit lower than other instructors, or you heard a critical comment from some of the participants or from a manager? What to do, what to do? You want to be fair to your employee, and if s/he is also an instructor who has subject-matter expertise in some of the offerings in your syllabus, you know they will be hard to replace.


Here are five tips for developing and keeping that “problem” instructor:

  • Stay in touch with what’s happening in the classroom. By “spot checking” all your instructors, you set an expectation that it is normal for you to drop in to the back of the classroom for a short visit. This means that observing the problem instructor is a not viewed as an exceptional visit. Frequent, short visits to supervise what’s happening in the classroom allow you to identify the good as well as the opportunities for improved performance in all your staff.
  • Don’t “garbage bag.” Training managers should provide feedback to instructors after every classroom visit. Always identify the positive behaviors in the classroom before identifying those opportunities for improved performance. Close with a positive. This is referred to as the feedback sandwich. It is formulaic, but effective. The same technique should be used when reviewing participant evaluations of a given training. Frequent feedback sessions, with specific suggestions for improvement, are more valuable than saving comments for the annual performance review.
  • Try co-facilitation. Working with a really effective instructor, or even just observing such an instructor, may be informative for a weaker instructor. In turn, this helps strengthen their delivery and facilitation skills. This can be especially valuable if you point out behaviors of the exemplar instructor that the weaker instructor should look for—then follow up afterward to see what they’ve learned.
  • Try professional development. Are there classes offered that could address the instructors identified weak areas? Langevin Learning Service’s offers a number of courses that may be valuable. Just like any other employee, instructors need skill and knowledge in order to improve performance.
  • Establish a performance improvement plan. In an extreme instance, a formal performance improvement plan should be put in place by the training manager to establish specific areas for improved performance and a timeline to be met in relation to those areas. It’s only fair to your instructor to provide a clearly defined path to acceptable performance.


The bottom line is that you owe it to your employees, and those that come to your training, to fully develop the talents of all your staff. If you want even more tips and techniques on how to coach your trainers to reach a higher level of performance, check out our Successful Training Manager workshop


What other tips can you share that have helped improve an instructor’s performance?


Training Competency Assessments Guide

Paul has been a course leader with Langevin since 2000. He graduated from the University of San Francisco with a Bachelor’s degree in History. Throughout Paul’s career he’s had the pleasure of training for a variety of industries including sports, military, technical, aviation, and academia. Paul firmly believes with the right training and support, people can be competent performers in most positions. The organizational trainer is the key to providing that performance boost. In his spare time, you might catch sight of Paul on the sidelines of a soccer field, biking through Napa Valley, or spending some quality time with his family.

Tags: managing training

About this Blog

Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts