Top 10 Key Skills for a Training Manager

A juggler, juggling
Thanks to Charles Jennings for this image from pixabay.

At the end of a busy day, we’re reflecting on what skills and experience a training manager really needs to have and be able to use on a daily basis. We decided to try and list them in what we think is a priority order and share them with the wider community.

  1. Listening skills – as a training manager, your customers are both internal and external, and you need to listen to them both.
  2. Communicating clearly – a lot of what a training manager does is all based on good communication.  Making difficut concepts appear simple and easy to understand, co-ordinating people, tasks, equipment and systems all need good communications. On top of being able to communicate well, they also need to communicate accurately, quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
  3. Technical know how. The Learning & Development world is changing and a training manager now needs to do and know more about technology than ever before. This covers all types of synchronous and asynchronous training such as webinars, classroom technology, learning management systems, integrating with other platforms such as eCommerce and authoring tools.
  4. Project management experience. It doesn’t need to be full-blown Prince2 or PMP, but training managers need to be able to execute small to mendium sized projects. Without this ability, the training department will be unable to keep up and adapt to change. Everything will fall into a “business as usual” routine and eventually stagnate.
  5. Leadership skills are also important. Most training managers will be leading a reasonably sized team of people who all want to further their own careers. Instructors (trainers), facilitators, LMS administrators, classroom organisers, team leaders, as well as external contractors and consultants all need guidance and direction.
  6. Marketing of the training department internally and externally also often falls to the role of the training manager. They ought to know the basics of networking, creating awareness of their department and be able to support sales people.
  7. Financial planning skills in the areas like budgeting and profit and loss accounts. Without these, problems will surely ensue.
  8. A training manager is also often the quality assurance and quality controller man or woman. They have oversight of all the different delivery channels they are using such as eLearning or classroom and they need to be aware of quality issues and have checks and balances in place to deal with them. They need to ensure that proper tests are being carried out on people and systems and that the results are in line with expectations.
  9. An understanding of where L&D has come from and where we are taking it in the future. Trends come and go, Blooms, Kirkpatrick, Gagne, Merrill, Ebbinghaus, etc etc etc… There was an explosion of theories in the 20th century and to be honest, we shouldn’t go away and read them all, but we should learn about where the future could be taking us. 70:20:10 is our best guess, but don’t take our word for it. A training manager needs to be working towards making sense of it all so they can maintain credibility.
  10. Finally, the training manager is often a change manager. They need to be able to implement change in individuals and organisations.

At the end of a long day, these are just our thoughts. Let us know what you think in the comments box.


  1. Almost there, almost there. I would add what I believe is the most important role of a training manager: To be an advocate of the value of human potential development. Have a seat at the big kid’s table to demonstrate and justify the training line item on the budget. To document and support the idea that learning is not an expense, but an investment in their human commodity. And to be ready to go to the wall to defend it’s continued existence.

  2. Good points. Thank you. Point 6 is very true. Marketing should be also done externally (social media…). Point 10 is connected with company strategy and ability to influence, engage and support managers to initiate and implement changes.

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