Self-Development

Training for Trainers: 10 Skills to Advance Your Program and Your Career

trainer using new skills in board meeting

Does employee training get all your attention, all day every day? Or is it just one small part of the mountain of responsibilities you manage?

Wherever you fall on the training program manager spectrum, there are particular skills you’ll need to run a program that aligns with business needs and produces results.

Don’t worry, these 10 training skills don’t have to be an inborn talent – they’re areas of focus that can be learned and improved upon. As a program manager, training and development is just as important for you as it is for your learners!

Some of these you may already have down pat, but for the ones that could use some work, make sure to download our Skills Workbook for action steps to improve those areas.

1. Be Invested

The employee training program manager is the impetus for engagement and real change through learning.

You’re carrying the banner for this initiative, showing everyone at every level of the company that training works, and you’re dedicated to building a program that improves employees’ work and overall lives.

If engagement or buy-in are issues, simply showing them you’re invested in training can be the first step toward success.

2. Communicate With the Right People

One of the most important skills as a training manager is the ability to effectively communicate with the right people.

Who are the right people?

Well… everyone!

You’re working with people at all levels of the company, whether it’s getting leadership buy-in or showing employees the benefits they can gain from utilizing the training you’ve worked so hard to offer them.

Alignment is your goal. Get people to unite behind your dedication and vision, and you’ll have a strong foundation for your employee training program.

3. Know Your Company

As a program manager, you have to have a pulse on the company – know its history as well as current affairs.

Understanding business goals and current challenges is essential to determining how a training program can support the company. You’ll also want to stay up to date on what’s in the news, any awards won and big changes within the company or particular departments.

4. Be Curious

Curiosity may be the most difficult of these skills to learn if it isn’t already innate, but the more invested you are in seeing your training program succeed, the more curiosity you’re likely to develop.

Asking questions is key to seeing where improvements and changes need to be made. You can use your people skills to network and ask other training program managers about their experiences, too.

5. Know the Training Industry

Along with having a pulse on your company, you’ll need to follow associations, groups, and publications to keep an eye on the training industry.

This is important to ensure you’re providing the most up-to-date information, resources, and tools to employees – neglecting to watch out for changing trends can end up having a big impact on engagement.

If your employees don’t feel like they’re getting training that’s building relevant skills and knowledge, they’ll find other ways to learn (leaving your program in the dust), or they’ll find another company with more promise of growing their career.

6. Communicate

Communication is a skill that everyone can always use improvement in, but when it comes to training people and building an effective program, these are the areas you’ll want to be focusing on:

  1. Relationships with coworkers
  2. Reading people
  3. Proactive composure
  4. Objective listening
  5. Written/verbal skills
  6. Creativity

There are a lot of ways to improve communication skills, so for this one especially we recommend taking a look at the Skills Workbook to learn specific behavior changes that’ll help you become a better communicator.

7. Problem Solving Skills

Solving problems is at the core of employee training, so to be effective in your role, you’ll need developed skills in seeking solutions to business needs and challenges.

This requires blending the aforementioned skills of curiosity, knowledge of your organization, and knowledge of the training industry – finding a solution typically starts with asking a question, and then doing research to find answers to that question.

8. Know Vendors

How much do you know about the vendors who provide technology and content for your training program?

Have they given you a thorough understanding of not only the technical knowledge, but also the features and benefits of using their products?

If not, take the time to reach out and see what you may be under-utilizing. It could end up preventing some big headaches in the future!

9. Form Partnerships

Along the same vein as knowledge of your vendors – how is your relationship with them?

Your vendors should be as dedicated to your training program as you are. This is about developing a relationship where you trust each other to be committed. Vendors are there to help you succeed, if you’re willing to see them as a partner in your training program’s success.

10. Leadership

This last skill applies wherever you are in the company, whether you’re on the leadership team, managing a department, or specifically in a training specialist role. The title isn’t important here – it’s the actual skill of leadership that’s needed in an employee training program manager.

Program managers are leaders through support and empowerment of others. High emotional intelligence is key to understanding how to lead others toward their fullest potential.

Want to go more in-depth with developing the skills and characteristics to be a more effective trainer? View the on-demand webinar here:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Krista researches, analyzes, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at the industry shifts and trends that matter to L&D and HR professionals, and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.