July 29, 2020

6 essential skills for Training Managers

The Training Manager is a crucial role in any organisation. They identify training needs, develop effective training programs, supervise the work of content developers and trainers, and manage training budgets.

The Training Manager may work across any department, with multiple stakeholders. They are the key to ensuring that training programs are developed to meet the needs of each function and are aligned with business goals.

In addition to general leadership skills, there are many additional competencies required to manage the training function successfully. These critical skills break down into six key areas:

  1. Stakeholder Management and Communication
  2. Project Management
  3. Training Delivery Management
  4. Team Working
  5. Understanding the Instructional Design Process
  6. Digital Media Skills

460degrees: 6 essential skills for Training Managers

Stakeholder Management and Communication

Stakeholder management is critical to the success of the Training Manager role. It is a crucial contribution that the Training Manager can make to the overall success of the project.

The Training Manager must take a customer-focused view of the training workstream. They should consider the needs of their customers and stakeholders, at all levels of the project, for information, updates, explanations, and reassurances about the progress of training.

At no stage of the project should any stakeholder be in doubt about:

  • Training management methods
  • Forecast dates for key milestones
  • Where documents and artefacts are stored
  • What training is being delivered
  • Overall program cost
  • What training each workgroup is getting and why
  • When are where the training is running
  • Who is enrolled for the training
  • Prerequisites for specific training activities
  • Risks and issues to the workstream
  • Overall student and team satisfaction

The Training Manager must ensure that communication and stakeholder management is a priority. Well-informed stakeholders will be more supportive of the project, and will be better positioned to offer assistance when needed.

Any prospective Training Manager must have a convincing and well thought out approach to managing stakeholders. They must understand stakeholder information needs and drivers, and must keep them informed throughout the project.

Project Management

As the Training Manager will be operating within a project team, they must understand the fundamentals of the project environment, as well as the needs of the various stakeholders within that environment.

For example, they are likely to be working directly with a Lead Project Manager. The Lead Project Manager will require inputs from the Training Lead that they can use immediately to understand the status of the Training Workstream and manage the project effectively.

Examples of this include:

  • A project schedule in a format suitable for regular updating and integration into the master schedule
  • Risks and issues documented and managed in a way that is compatible with the project risks and issues register
  • A budget formatted in a way that can be fed straight into the overall project financials
  • Regular reporting and communication that meet the information needs of different stakeholders.

In fact, the Training Manager role is, in many respects, very similar to the Project Manager role. A prospective Training Manager must demonstrate that they understand and use each of the following as part of their approach:

  • Schedule Management
  • Risks and Issues Management
  • Budget Management
  • Stakeholder Management

Even if a candidate has never formally worked as a ‘Project Manager’, they should be able to make the link between training management and the project management essentials.

Training Delivery Management

Training delivery management is all about managing logistics and multiple moving parts. Working back from the point where we actually start delivering training, numerous interdependencies need to be factored into delivery planning before a schedule can be put together. For example:

  • Availability of staff (students)
  • Availability of instructors
  • Availability of model environments, if required
  • Availability of venues
  • Venue access restrictions
  • Other logistical needs, e.g. printing or web conferencing
  • Lead time to develop and preview training materials, interactive activities, practical exercises, assessments, and handouts
  • Proximity of training to launch date
  • Requirement for some staff to be trained earlier than others
  • Logical sequence of training for individual teams

Detailed planning must include anticipating and neutralising risks. These risks may include:

  • Network access problems
  • Students (or instructors) having trouble accessing the venue
  • The state of the venue/setup needs
  • Students not having completed prerequisites or training preparations
  • Equipment not working or not in place
  • Training content
  • Variations in the quality of vendor training content or delivery

In the project environment, there are usually no second chances when it comes to failed training deliveries because of the logistics and constraints involved.

Prospective training managers must be aware of all of the variables that go into planning training delivery. They must be able to name the key variables that they focus on as part of their planning. They must also be able to describe their strategies for identifying and neutralising risks to training delivery.

The other aspect of training delivery management that is key for Training Managers is how they deal with issues when they arise. It’s not unusual for problems to occur during training delivery; what is essential is how the Training Manager takes ownership of the problem and resolves it to the satisfaction of all of the stakeholders concerned. Potential issues include:

  • Equipment failures
  • Delays that impact training delivery
  • Network access
  • Course content
  • Venue suitability

Any experienced Training Manager will be able to describe problems that occurred on training programs they have managed, and how they took control of the issue.

Team Working

Throughout the lifecycle of a project, the Training Manager will be reliant on others for information.

There are vital upstream dependencies, such as change strategies, business processes and solution architecture documents, that are critical to the training workstream. As well as valuable smaller inputs, such as review feedback, signoffs, source content, training nominations, and event attendance and involvement in planning and content development workshops.

To a large extent, the training workstream is at the bottom of the ‘project food chain’, and yet satisfactory and timely completion of training is critical to obtaining approval to launch the new product or service that’s being delivered.

Because of this, Training Managers live or die by their ability to extract the inputs they need from project stakeholders, SMEs and other providers to keep their workstream on track. One of the greatest dangers to the workstream is the potential for some Training Managers to be too passive. Usually, this is when requesting the inputs they need, resulting in costly delays.

Therefore, prospective Training Managers need clear strategies for dealing assertively with information providers, particularly those who are uncooperative or time-poor. Training Managers also need to know how to monitor the impact of input delays on activities in their schedule and have a plan for engaging assistance from the Project Manager or other stakeholders if issues persist.

Understanding the Instructional Design Process

The Training Manager may not be directly responsible for the production and customisation of training content. However, they are accountable to actively oversee, drive and manage this activity on their workstream.

Training Managers need experience in instructional design. They must be able to describe the high-level process for designing and building quality training content (‘courseware’).

A typical courseware design-build process would include the following steps:

  • Define the course outline:
    • Duration, delivery format (classroom-based, virtual class, e-learn)
    • Target audience (which teams and staff is this for)
    • Prerequisites (what pre-existing skills, knowledge and experience and previously completed training is expected?)
    • Learning goals, required knowledge, skills and actions
    • Proposed course outline (including source content, reviewer for each topic)
    • Proposed practice activities, learning checks and assessments
    • Additional materials to be produced to accompany the course (e.g. quick references, online work instructions and support content)
    • Obtain signoff from the relevant stakeholders for the course outline
  • Build the course content:
    • For classroom-based delivery, the course content is typically built using MS Office applications. It may comprise an instructor guide or session plan, student workbook, presentation pack, handouts, realistic practice activities, learning checks and assessments.
    • For e-learn delivery, the course content is typically built using an e-learn authoring tool. It usually comprises text content, multimedia assets (images, diagrams, animations, videos), practice scenarios, learning checks and assessments. The e-learn course may also link out to additional relevant resource material.
  • Obtain review feedback and approvals on the course content
  • Pilot the course
  • Incorporate final changes/adjustments before training delivery.

Training Managers need a solid grasp of the instructional design process. They should be able to describe courseware design and build processes they have overseen in the past that generally align with the method described above.

Digital Media Skills

Clear communication is a recurring theme throughout the training workstream, and the ability to work with digital media and communicate visually is a significant asset to any Training Manager.

Real-world scenarios in which a Training Manager can use these skills include:

  • Designing diagrams to explain workgroup relationships, training flows, processes or the project solution
  • Laying out a report format
  • Communicating the project schedule, timeline or status
  • Editing or cleaning up video recordings of webinars and online briefings
  • Cropping, resizing or modifying images

Therefore, prospective Training Managers should be able to demonstrate strong visual communication skills, attention to detail, and experience with standard digital media tools.

Our Experts at 460degrees have all the skills needed and more. We can assist with all aspects of training services. We will take responsibility for end to end training program design and delivery, taking a weight off your shoulders.

If you need assistance with your training programs, contact 460degrees here.

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