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Training / Presenting: Stronger Managers and Competent Trainers

Training managers use many of the same interpersonal and analytical skills that other types of departments use. In particular, they need to be good communicators, and highly skillful in interpersonal relations. They need to delegate effectively, support their staff emotionally, give accurate and timely feedback, and set departmental goals that are consistent with organizational goals. Barbara L. Thornton, an independent training consultant in the St. Paul area, says that training managers need to exercise leadership skills in guiding their people. “[A good training manager is] a good coach,” adds Robert Bertschy.

Outside the department, the training manager plays a role that is part public relations, part strategy. After all, your staffing levels depend on your organization population, their needs and the budget allocated to your department. Your most important goal is to insure the strength and relevance of the department in the larger picture. Once you return to the training department with a mandate from the organization, and, hopefully, the support necessary to implement that mandate, the training manager’s focus must change. Inside the training department, getting, keeping and motivating a staff of highly talented individuals is your most important function. Everything the department does, and how it is viewed, is affected by how skillfully you help your people manage themselves.

Sharon Burns offers the following tips for the training managers interviewing prospective trainers. During the interview, look at the applicant’s questioning skill, how they get information from you. Does the applicant have a logical thought process? Does the applicant equate training with corporate business? She has personally found that psychology graduates with good interpersonal skills sometimes out-perform former classroom teachers, who have to unlearn old habits when faced with adult learners. Larry Lottier suggests having the applicant do a presentation for the department. Does he or she come across as a performer? Is the presentation boring? Have department members present for the trial training discuss the applicant’s classroom style — how well would this person wear with the group as a whole?

New trainers, once on board, need seasoning and supervisory attention. Our interviewees identified some of the common mistakes that new trainers make which a manager can help them to sidestep. Overall, most managers agreed that new trainers usually are too dependent on prepared lectures, and too easily affected by the personal need to be liked. “A new trainer will spend too much time lecturing, clinging to instructor notes,” Additionally, most new trainers have not had enough expeosure to different cultures, and will either misread the intentions of their trainees’ questions or blame unsatisfactory feedback on a lack of interest in the subject, not their own style or content. New trainers need help with listening skills.

The key to good trainers is a good training manager.

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