What Does a Training Manager, Director, or Specialist Do?

Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Training Manager?

A training manager participates in diverse activities and has many roles.
Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz/Blend Images/Getty Images

Training and development managers and specialists conduct and supervise training and development programs for employees. Increasingly, management recognizes that training offers a way of developing skills, enhancing productivity and quality of work, and building loyalty to the firm.

It is in the best interests of organizations to ensure that the staff they employ continually advance in their skills, experience, and ability to contribute in increasingly effective ways.

The training and development manager can promote learning opportunities for the whole organization thus ensuring that the advancement continues.

Training is widely accepted as a method of improving employee morale, but this is only one of the reasons for its growing importance. Other factors include the complexity of the work environment, the rapid pace of organizational and technological change, and the growing number of jobs in fields that constantly generate new knowledge.

In addition, advances in learning theory have provided insights into how adults learn, and how you can organize training most effectively for your adult learner employees.

Workplaces have also become more knowledgeable about how to develop employee skills more effectively in both external programs and using internal opportunities to help employees continue to grow their skills.

What Do Training Staff Members Do?

Training staff members have a variety of job titles depending on the size of their organization, its complexity and need to stay cutting edge and their organization's commitment to employee development.

Titles of employees working in employee development include Vice President of training or development, director, manager, supervisor, coordinator, specialist, assistant, trainer, instructional designer, and facilitator. 

All of these positions supply multiple opportunities for the employees doing the job to contribute.

And, in many organizations, especially small- to mid-sized, each of these roles might support multiple facets of training and education.

Training managers and all employees with the titles mentioned above plan, organize and direct a wide range of training activities. As their job titles are higher in the training hierarchy, employees are more likely to direct the work of others. Lower level titles do the planning and organizing logistics, maintain employee training records, set up schedules and rooms, and make the training offerings operate seamlessly.

Examples of Training Department Activities

Trainers conduct orientation sessions and arrange on-the-job training for new employees. They help rank-and-file workers maintain and improve their job skills, and possibly prepare for jobs requiring  greater skills or for promotions.

They help supervisors improve their interpersonal skills in order to deal effectively with employees. They may set up individualized training plans to strengthen an employee's existing skills or teach new ones.

Training specialists in some companies set up leadership or executive development programs among employees in lower level positions. These programs are designed to develop potential and current executives to replace those retiring.

Trainers also lead programs to assist employees with transitions due to mergers and acquisitions, as well as technological changes.

In government-supported training programs, training specialists function as case managers. They first assess the training needs of clients, then guide them through the most appropriate training method. After training, they either refer clients to employer relations representatives or give them job placement assistance.

Planning and program development are an important part of the training specialist's job. In order to identify and assess training needs within the firm, trainers may confer with managers and supervisors or conduct surveys. They also periodically evaluate training effectiveness. Transfer of training skills to the job is a particularly important skill of employees who work in training.

Depending on the size, goals, and nature of the organization, trainers may differ considerably in their responsibilities and in the methods they use.

Training methods include on-the-job training; schools in which shop conditions are duplicated for trainees prior to putting them on the shop floor; apprenticeship training; classroom training; and electronic learning, which may involve interactive Internet-based training, multimedia programs, distance learning, satellite training, videos and other computer-aided instructional technologies, simulators, conferences, and workshops. 

More About Job Descriptions.