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Path to Becoming a Training Manager

Posted by Paul Sitter on 11/5/18 5:36 PM
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Training managers typically come into the instructional world following one of two paths. In one case, a person advances within the training department, perhaps acting as a subject-matter expert, then a training analyst, then a trainer, then an instructional designer and, finally, with a broad background in training skills, the trainer moves into the training manager position. On the second path, a person with a track record for effective management, possibly with no training background, becomes the training department manager or director. Both paths have their own challenges.


In the first situation, a trainer must get up-to-speed as a manager. In the second instance, a manager must quickly get to know the training world.


The trainer who becomes a manager needs a mentor in the complicated world of organizational politics. The mentor may be the outgoing training manager, a senior member of the department, the person the new training manager reports to, or some other colleague within—or external to—the organization.


What might a new training manager discover or discuss with the mentor?

  • Working relationships at the management level within the organization.
  • Insights into key personalities within the organization, especially of the person the new training manager will be reporting to.
  • Common problems for new managers.
  • Budget development.
  • Status of ongoing projects and priorities at a strategic level, as well as within the training department.


The new training manager, without a training background, needs to be brought up-to-speed on the world of training, the areas identified above, and so much more. Again, a mentor might be the outgoing manager, a training department member, or the person they are now reporting to. Their discussions might include:

  • Alignment of training department mission statement and priorities with the organization’s mission and objectives.
  • Departmental politics.
  • Existing training budget.
  • Relationships within the department.
  • Existing or required training department policies.
  • Role of training within the organization.
  • Major functions and capabilities of the department.
  • Collaborative nature of training within the organization and within the department.
  • Timelines associated with instructional design or delivery.
  • Needs analysis process.
  • When to say “no” to a training request.
  • Personalities of the training department members.
  • Personnel challenges within the department.
  • Resources to draw upon to further various training department projects.


In either case, the new training manager has a lot on his or her plate. Getting up-to-speed on new responsibilities means a busy time with focused energy and the goal to get off to a good start.


To learn how to create and manage a high-performance training function and how to align training with organizational needs to deliver cost-effective, first-class training, check out The Successful Training Manager workshop.


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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.

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