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8 Tips for Increasing Line Manager Support for Training

Posted by Paul Sitter on 9/8/14 5:11 AM
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In the world of training, what do you have without management support?


Most of us would answer quite correctly, “Nothing.” This is especially true if the management you’re talking about is first-line supervisory management, the person your learners report to. You can be as persuasive as possible in the classroom, but if the words we have all heard (“Yeah, that’s what they said in training, but let me show you how we do it here.”) are spoken by the person who manages your learners, I know which way they’ll go.


So how do you increase the likelihood of support for training? Here are a few tips:

1. Ensure the training objectives are in line with the performance objectives of the supervisor. For example, if your training deals with handling customer complaints in a call center and the supervisor is expecting a de-escalation of customer complaints, you will most likely have that supervisor’s support.

2. Seek top-down support for your training. If the supervisor’s manager sends out an email stating how important your training is and how it relates to the success of the manager, you have a persuasive argument from the supervisor’s manager.

3. Identify the link between training and performance objectives. Even though you are a trainer, it’s not enough to design and deliver training well. You also need to market your training to your “true” customers; namely, those who pay for the training. It is the supervisors who will lose the productivity of their employees while they are in your classroom. Internal marketing material aimed toward the line supervisors should be part of your marketing plan.

4. Involve line supervisors in the design team. Using subject-matter experts (SMEs) as part of your validation group brings valuable expertise to a project. Additionally, having them as part of the design team contributes to their personal buy-in to the training product. It also may contribute to buy-in from their colleagues. In your training materials, a personal “thanks” to those team members is a valuable pat on the back.

5. Involve supervisors in the delivery of training. Using the supervisor as a SME, presenter, or coach during the training has the same effect as using them in the design team.

6. Make sure supervisors are aware of the content of the training. “If an employee knows what it is they are supposed to do and how well they are supposed to do it, they will,” is a saying often used in the world of performance improvement. This saying applies to supervisors as well. Inviting supervisors to the training or giving them a brief session or job aid covering the content of the training are ways of letting them know what their employees are supposed to be doing on the job. In essence you are giving the line supervisor a tool to help them do their jobs.

7. Encourage supervisors to brief and debrief their employees. If a supervisor has a meeting with his or her employees before and after training, you will have a motivated learner. The meetings can cover things like the key take-aways from training and implementation challenges.

8. Involve management in training evaluations. Let supervisors know that they may be contacted to find out how well the training worked for their employees. This will provide a degree of accountability for the supervisor as well as a sense of being part of the “process.”


“I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.” Using some of the tips listed above will show how much you care about the supervisors’ opinions and about their ability to influence what happens in the workplace. I will personally guarantee that if you implement any of these tips, you will get more return on investment for your training dollar.

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: job performance, tips-for-trainers

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