Top 5 New Training Manager Situations

You’ve just landed a new job as a Training Manager. Where do you start?

Before you start looking for advice and information online, or beginning conversations with other training managers it will be important for you to know what you’ve gotten yourself into.  Having a clear understanding of your current state, and being able to articulate it to others, will help define your search for answers. If you are new to the training function then the answers and direction you need will be very different from the seasoned training manager who has just changed companies. And yes, this sounds a little obvious and perhaps unnecessary but just thinking this through for a few minutes will get you to quicker results.

Planning Your First Steps

There are, of course, many many different situations a new Training Manager might find himself owning.  There are probably as many as there are companies with training departments.  But in general the creation of a training department, or the hiring of a new training manager is done for a specific business reason.  You will find yourself in trouble very quickly if you were hired to simply keep the business running and you begin requesting budget for a new Learning Management System.  This table should get you thinking about it a little more and help you clarify your current situation.

KTBR – Keep the Business Running

This one is easy.  The training department has been around for a while, the team is built and functions well together, and all development and delivery systems are functioning and of acceptable value.  You’ve been working for the company for more than a couple years, you have management experience, but you have never managed the training function. Most likely your primary goal will be to just keep everything running smoothly and not falling apart.

The Re-model

This situation requires that you keep the business running WHILE utilizing your experience as a training manager to improve the methods and systems currently in place.  You’ve most likely been hired away from another company because of the innovative work you did there. You are new to this company, and getting to know the new culture will be the largest part of your learning curve.  Do not take that lightly and ignore it or you will find yourself running up against resistance to the innovations you thought they hired you to implement.

The Clean-up

You are an experience manager and business leader. You probably don’t understand the details of many of the departments you’ve managed, but okay because that’s what you’re direct reports are for.  You’re primary function is rescuing sinking ships.  In this situation you will most likely be reducing headcount and otherwise managing performance issues amongst the team.  You need to keep the business running but your colleagues will be well aware of the situation your are tending too.  However, the business will quickly run out of patience. Do what you must to cull the herd, mend the wounds, and begin the healing process for the remaining team members.  Get it done…and help everyone move on.

The Architect

This is a rare find, and you are wise to take on this situation as a Training Manager at least once in your career. What you accomplish is far less important than what you will learn, but with any luck you will accomplish quite a bit.  You are starting fresh with no sacred cows to slaughter.  You will need to hire your team, acquire a learning management system, create/document processes, design/deliver courses, and SO much more.  It can be overwhelming most…actually ALL of the time.  But in the end you will have built something from nothing.  And no matter what the something looks like, it is yours and yours alone.  And the experience you gained from having been the architect will continue to grow and make you better at every new job you encounter.

The Subject Matter Expert

In many industries this is quite common.  You are pretty good at what you do, but what you REALLY enjoy doing is teaching others how to do it too.  You have experience with the company and seen as one of the “goto” experts.  You’ve also get praised quite a bit for your creative presentations, and everyone loves spending time in your training sessions.  No, you don’t have any management experience and no formal training experience.  However the business is growing and the leadership decides to create a training department and you are the perfect employee for the job.  Don’t laugh.  This happens more than you might think. And if this is you, then welcome to the wonderful world of training and development.


Well… this one just speaks for itself.  And I didn’t mention 6 in the title because of it.  But yes, this does happen too. <facepalm>

Your Experiences!

What’s your situation? Let me know how it turned out and leave a comment.