The Boss

Who is it that helps the trainee see how their learning can be applied to the job and motivates them to begin using the new skills learned in training?

If you said it’s the trainer, you are wrong….in most cases, anyway. The trainee’s boss is the person who has the necessary knowledge of the job, good access to the trainee and the ability to review the work to regularly reinforce the training. It is the boss of the trainee who can and should:

  1. Discuss the purpose of the training with the trainee ahead of time

  2. Help the trainee identify the training can be applied and the benefits of doing so

  3. Provide opportunities for the trainee to practice as soon as they return from training, and reinforce doing it

  4. Observe the trainee and/or the trainee’s work output “real time”

  5. Encourage, support, and assist the trainee with issues that may interfere or distract from using skills learned

“The trainee’s boss isn’t doing his/her job!” I often hear trainers and HR professionals complain. Whose fault is this? Sorry to say, it is yours. Because you – the trainer, the HR person, the sales manager – have an important role here. It is your job to educate and engage the trainees’ bosses so that they do all of the above. My second book The Making Training Stick Field Guide has sample emails and voicemails for communicating with trainees’ bosses before and after training.

Let’s face it. If trainees don’t use what they have learned, the training department and/or the trainer is held accountable. If the end-of-session evaluations are used as the sole determinant of successful training, the trainer is held accountable.

The following ideas to engage and educate trainees’ bosses were shared with me by clients and trainer friends:

  1. Develop a “boss briefing” to introduce key training points and target ways for the boss to reinforce and allow practice.

  2. Deliver the boss briefing in several different formats: teleconference, webcast, elearning*, podcast. The “run time” should be no more than 10 minutes and should emphasize that communication with the trainee before and after training is critical to a successful outcome.

  3. Encourage the bosses to help the trainees find ways to practice their new skills as soon as they return to work. My first book, Making Training Stick has some sobering figures about how much is forgotten just a short time after training.

  4. Invite (or mandate) the boss to attend a portion of the training – the beginning, specific mid-point, or the “graduation”. Provide boss-trainee dialogue time with a few open-ended questions to focus the discussion.

Until next time…

*Looking for a quick and easy way to develop elearning? We offer the lps system, almost as easy as word processing. You can create text-based elearning today and begin using it tomorrow!  It’s web-based. See a sample on my website: elearning sample or

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