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Employee Training: Who is the Person Responsible?

4 minute read | Jan 4, 2023

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The person responsible for employee training and development is their direct manager. It is not a shared responsibility of the organization and should not be outsourced. employee-training

This article argues why training is the manager’s job and how they can engage with others to take action to improve it:

  1. Why training is the manager’s job
  2. Benefits of manager training
  3. How managers can engage others to help train subordinates

1. Why training is the manager’s job

Formel Intel CEO Andy Grove argues that as the manager is responsible for the output of the team, then if an employee is not doing their job it is the manager’s job to find out why and take action to improve it.

In his book High Output Management, Andy makes the syllogism that if you accept that:

  1. Training, along with motivation, is the way to improve the performance of your subordinates; and
  2. What you teach must be closely tied to what you practise, and that training needs to be continuous rather than a one-time event
  3. Therefore it is clear that the who of training is you, the manager.

This means that the manager needs to be responsible and actively involved in the training of their subordinates rather than leaving it to HR or external trainers.

2. Benefits of manager training

The two main benefits of a manager who trains is they are able to 1) better identify skills gaps; and 2) send the strongest positive culture:

1. Better identify skills gap

Managers are responsible for setting the team’s output (the what) and are closer to the alignment with the company’s objectives (the why). This is needed to both identify and prioritise the relevant skills and knowledge gaps which may often change.

2. Send the strongest positive culture

People look to managers as the “big dog’s” in the company, and culture often emulates their behaviour for better or for worse. A manager who invests their own time in training sends the message that continuous improvement and taking ownership trumps talent and finger pointing.

3. How managers can engage others to help train subordinates

Here is a summary of how managers may approach employee training with their subordinates and how to engage people in other divisions to assist.

Person Manager Do’s ✅ Manager Don'ts ❌
Manager (you)
  • Identify competency gaps and communicate why they are important to business objectives
  • Stretch employees circles of competence
  • Focus training and feedback on less vs more. Training should be compounding not one-off
  • Set time to continuously review work
  • Micromanage tasks
  • Blame employees for gaps
  • Criticise without giving examples of what good looks like
  • Provide too much information in a short period of time
Employee (subordinate)
  • Review and QA their work to identify competency gaps
  • Listen to employee feedback to identify motivation gaps
  • Ask employee to propose external training seminars they are interested in (this puts burden on them)
  • Accept employee proposed training that misaligns with team output
  • Work with HR to align competency training with career and remuneration progression
  • Set better recruitment and hiring criteria for competency and coachability
  • Ask HR to propose learning and development plan
  • Ask HR to outsource to external training consultants
Subject Matter Expert
  • Ask internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with skills outside your circle of competence to assist with internal training and reading materials
  • Record training sessions with SMEs who are time poor
  • Regular catch-ups with SMEs to review employee participation
  • Ask SMEs to be responsible for training
  • Ask too much of SMEs that it may take away from their team’s output
  • Ask employee to engage directly with SME to level up


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