Are you a new training manager? Being selected to oversee the corporate training function can seem overwhelming even for an experienced training professional.
- Identify your personal weaknesses and limitations with regard to the diverse roles of the training manager. Be honest. Seek mentors, training opportunities or other support in those areas.
- Be sure you clearly understand the training department’s charge from senior management. A detailed report or document is not needed – simply an understanding of what senior management wants the training center to accomplish. Why does the training function exist?
- Visit each site, each department head and ask “What’s your take on training?” Listen to the responses. Be prepared to hear negativity. Accept criticism without accepting responsibility or assigning blame. Even if criticism sounds personal at times, remain impartial and avoid becoming defensive. Take notes.
- If assuming responsibility for an existing training center, attend several classes. Sit in the back of the class and take notes covering each of the five functional areas: curriculum, technology, environment, instructor, and students.
- Identify the starting point. Where is the training center at in each of the five areas? Be sure to document information on each functional area. To give an accurate progress report, the training manager must have a good frame of reference.
- Establish a simple, clearly stated personal vision for the training center. This is different than the formal mission or vision statements; this is a very personal statement of what you, the training manager, feels will define success of the training center. For example, “Develop an in-house instructional staff.” Write them down, put a date on the paper, and post it near your computer or telephone. Your actions each day should contribute to the long-term fulfillment of these goals.
- Perform an audit. Identify available resources in each of the functional areas. If the training center has a learning management system, get familiar with the vendor and existing data. Don’t restrict the audit to the obvious – include software programs, external contacts, hotel / conference center past contracts, etc. Review existing curricula based on frequency of use and impact on business. Why is this curriculum important? To whom is it important? How does it contribute to the business?
- Form the first advisory group. From the individuals you’ve encountered so far, form an initial advisory group. If taking over a training center from a previous manager, find out if a group exists. Ask a couple members of the former group to join as well. Share what’s you have learned. Let the group brainstorm, and listen carefully to the group dynamics. Use care not to let the group dictate training; the training manager must retain authority and control.
- Establish a prioritized to-do list. Having a list of higher-priority items that take 3-5 years to develop is normal. Don’t overlook items that might have a lesser impact, but can be easily accomplished. The list should also be consistent with the training manager’s personal vision. Separate items by functional area, then rate them based on potential short and long-term impact, cost, difficulty, and time required.
- Develop an outline and timeline using the accumulated information. These are the first steps towards forming the training center’s short- and long-term plan.
Taking these ten steps are important in forming the training manager’s foundation both within the company and within the training center. One of the first hurdles a new training manager must jump is establishing credibility. These steps, along with getting a few to-do items completed in each functional area, helps build the relationships and credibility needed for the larger-scale projects.