should employees have to train their new manager?

A reader writes:

What is your opinion about direct reports training a new manager? I’ve experienced this twice now, where I have taken on a management job where my direct reports (usually less than a year in their own position) were appointed to train me. My preference is for a more seasoned person or my boss to do so and that was my expectation. I’m also concerned about my staff thinking that this is an odd situation or even getting demoralized because of it. I do feel quite competent that I can understand the new role quickly, but I feel like I’m not getting the right training and might not be giving the right impression to my direct reports.

I’ve been thinking of speaking to my boss about my concerns, and also I think getting training from various old time personnel who don’t report to me would help tremendously in my training. When I first experienced this, I wasn’t a complete career changer, but this time around I was hired more for my managerial skills rather than my product knowledge. I’m not completely without that knowledge, but it’s different when it’s not something you have worked with directly. What do you think?

It’s very, very normal for a manager coming in as a new hire to be trained in some parts of her job by people who report to her.

They’re presumably not training you on the parts of your job that only you as the manager can do — like assessing performance, giving feedback, and so forth. They’re training you on the things that they’re familiar with.

For example, if you were hired to manage a communications department, I’d expect that your staff would train you on how to use the department’s media database, common processes used by your team that you might need to use too, how to use the weird phone system, and so forth. I wouldn’t expect them to train you in how to set media strategy or how to assess their performance, or how to advocate for them up the chain of command; that stuff is really your purview. But other things, like the ones I’ve named here? If they know how to do something, they’re the logical ones to show you.

It sounds like you’re worried that a manager should start out knowing everything, or at least that it shouldn’t be so obvious to employee that she didn’t. But that’s not how it works. You weren’t hired because of your knowledge of how to do lower-level work; you were hired because of higher-level expertise. Meanwhile, though, you still need to know how an unfamiliar database works or how your team normally handles situations A, B, and C, and it’s reasonable to have your new team show you those things.

You don’t establish your value by coming in already knowing what your team knows; you establish it through effectively leading and managing that team, and that can be a quite different skill.

Sometimes the flip side of this comes up, where employees resent that they have to train a new manager, figuring out that if she was really worthy of her job, she wouldn’t need the training. That’s wrong-headed too, for exactly the same reason: The manager is bringing a different, more senior kind of expertise that has nothing to do with whether or not she comes in already knowing process details about how a particular department works.

That said, you shouldn’t assume that your employees will know exactly what would be most helpful for you to know, and if you feel like you’re not getting the right training, that’s a situation that you should be proactive about managing. I’d figure out why you’re feeling that way, and where you feel the gaps are — and then figure out who can best fill them in for you (which could include asking your team members and/or your boss who they’d recommend that you talk to about X).

{ 49 comments… read them below }

  1. Daisy Steiner*

    I think this ‘role reversal’ (the subordinate training the manager in something) could actually be a fantastic way to build rapport if you approach it well.

    In the past I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of one-on-one time with my new manager, seeing how well they learn and listen to me (important in a manager) and enjoying the feeling of being seen as an expert in something.

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      Where I would feel demoralised would be if you didn’t bring anything ELSE to the role. If I teach you all I know, and then you do it slightly less well than me (because you’re newer) and for more money, I’m going to feel a bit ripped off. But if I can see you doing management stuff (improving processes, monitoring performance, advocating upwards for us, etc. etc.) then I don’t mind that I had to teach you the other things.

      1. Ad Astra*

        I think that’s where my resentment came from when I was in this position. From my point of view, he didn’t bring anything to the role that I didn’t already have, and he also wasn’t much of a manager. In hindsight, I think the Big Boss wanted to really change the scope of that position (adding significant reporting and photography to a role that was previously mostly content management and social media), and his skills were a better fit for that three-jobs-in-one scenario.

  2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

    Often as the senior most creative, the person I report to (and other members of the senior management team) have no clue how my department does what they do, so the only option is to my new staff show me what they do.

    Not only is this a great opportunity to get to know my new team’s working style, it is a chance to observe process. I have had people say the dreaded, “I don’t know why we do it this way” or “this seems really long, but that’s the way we have always done it.”

    It gives me key things to look out for.

    1. TootsNYC*

      This is important. That initial training is a really great framework for your team to give you input on processes, changes, frustrations, things they’re really proud of, etc.

      Actively tease that out as they’re teaching you stuff like how to access the database.

      I also use that training time to begin the documentation and codification that I believe are part of my responsibility (given my field). Or to review the existing documentation and expand it. Or compliment it!

      It’s also such a great, intense “getting to know you” opportunity. I’m learning about their communication skills, their skillset in terms of our technical duties, etc.

  3. LBK*

    Wasn’t there a letter not too long ago from the reverse perspective, where the employee was annoyed she was having to train people that were being hired into management roles? So I suppose it is possible they’re taking it the wrong way, too.

    Regardless, Alison’s take is spot on, and I think this is a great opportunity to position yourself as someone that’s going to be a good manager. Being honest when you don’t know or understand something is critical for garnering respect. Perhaps I’m reading the tone wrong, but it seems as though the OP almost doesn’t trust that the employees will be able to teach her the right info because they’re not also managers or senior people; if that’s the case, I’d erase that impression from your mind ASAP. Especially if they’re showing you front-line, day-to-day systems and procedures, they’ll almost definitely have a better grasp on those than managers would, and furthermore you don’t want to risk coming off like a know-it-all who doesn’t respect the expertise your employee have built up over their time there.

    It’s not a secret that you’re new, so there’s no reason to try to act like you’re already the expert. Let them show you what they do well and in turn, show them what you do well, like being a good leader and manager.

    1. LBK*

      Also, FWIW, I find newer people are often better trainers because they’re closer to the things that were hard for them to learn. People who have been doing the job for years and operate mostly on muscle memory aren’t usually as good at explaining their steps, mentioning potential pitfalls, giving helpful tips, etc.

    2. the gold digger*

      Especially if they’re showing you front-line, day-to-day systems and procedures,

      I said to someone once, “Even the president of the United States can be replaced in 15 minutes.”

      He answered, “Yes, but it takes us a lot longer to find a customer service rep.”

  4. 42*

    I think it’s a good thing. You can get a sense straight from the source of where the team’s processes have the potential to go off the rails…which will make you a better manager. Things that impede the flow, stuff like that.

    Please approach this with your head in the right place. Everyone has something to teach. Don’t project upon your team how they are feeling (ie, “demoralized”, etc.). They may be looking forward to it.

    So go forth and be a sponge, and stop obsessing on which faucet the water is coming out of.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Everyone has something to teach.

      Even those same people, three years from now.

      Hugely important to my success as a manager is the flow of information upward. Often my team members are the ones “on the ground,” and they see problems and solutions before I can. Because they’ve trained me on stuff now and then, they are willing to bring those to me later. They know they’ll be heard, and they know I care about making the process easier and better.

  5. INFJ*

    I had the experience of being in a department with no supervisor, and then a supervisor was hired from the outside who had managerial experience but NO idea how to do our day to day tasks. We all had to teach him.

    He picked things up very quickly, and, despite being an insecure power freak in other ways, didn’t seem to think of it as a threat to his authority to have his staff teaching him.

    I think the biggest challenge for someone in OP’s role is the balance between accepting “this is how we do things here” vs. wanting to implement changes to improve quality and/or efficiency that are noticed right out of the gate. I’m curious to know exactly what OP means by “not giving the right impression to my direct reports.” As long as OP is receptive to learning, that’s a good impression to give.

    1. Koko*

      That last bit is hard for anyone, but especially so for a new senior manager who has more of an organizational mandate to improve processes.

      If you’re mid-level it might make more sense to keep your head quietly down for a few months before suggesting you know a better way to do something. But for a senior manager it’s probably best to directly address it while making sure the employees don’t feel like you’re coming in and making change for the sake of change without any clue what you’re doing. Maybe something like, “I wonder if we couldn’t save time by doing X instead of Y then Z. I know you’re much more familiar with the ins and outs of this than I am – are there constraints that make X unrealistic? Let’s schedule time to talk together about how we might improve this process.”

      And then really listen to their input. Not only will they be more likely to get on board with any changes you want to make if they feel they were consulted and listened to about it, as the people in the weeds day-to-day they really are the best people to ask about things like that when you don’t have your organizational sea legs yet.

  6. Elizabeth West*

    Good comments here and good advice from Alison. Managing has a whole different set of skills than what your employees use day-to-day. They’re the ones who will know what’s going on in the trenches. I love having a manager who knows what I do (and can do it when I’m not here), because she understands what difficulties I encounter. Otherwise, it would be like Aliens:

    Ripley: How many drops is this for you, Lieutenant?
    Gorman: Thirty eight… simulated.
    Vasquez: How many *combat* drops?
    Gorman: Uh, two. Including this one.
    Drake: Sh*t.
    Hudson: Oh, man…

    And then later, he sends them right into a nest of xenomorphs and they can’t even use their pulse rifles because GRENADES and a bunch of them get killed.

    1. Anonymous Educator*


      Except Gorman wasn’t totally useless. He did recognize that Ripley should be listened to when Hicks and Ripley made a little nudge. He could have pulled rank. Part of being a good manager is recognizing your limitations.

  7. Ad Astra*

    I’ve trained my manager before, when I was less than a year into my position, because I was the only person in the office who knew how to do any of those tasks. It was one of those setups where the manager and direct report have essentially the same job, but the manager goes to more meetings and I guess is slightly more involved in long-term strategy. It was a little frustrating, since I had applied for the promotion to his job. Interestingly enough, he had zero management experience and turned out to be a pretty weak manager, despite having some pretty good technical skills.

  8. Anx*

    So the bulk of my training higher-ups comes from non-professional jobs, but I didn’t mind it at all. It was a bit of an unusual situation, where the managerial position above me was pretty much an internship for graduate students. Of course I’d know more about the facility and procedures than they would.

    Where it got murkier was that with 2 years experience over my new superior, I also knew a lot more about the department’s culture and politics and the dynamics between returning staff members. I tried to present this information more subjectively and acknowledge my position as his employee to minimize unintentionally influencing his management inappropriately.

    I didn’t find it demoralizing at all. I was pretty demoralized when people were transferred to our staff by some weird consolation/draft situation instead of through our usual culture-heavy interview process, and that those same coworkers were had priority pick of their next staff placement, regardless of skills and fit. I did find if frustrating to have to train them, because even though it wasn’t there fault, that system was completely unfair and saddled us with coworkers who just didn’t have the skills we needed. They were essentially useless and then were then got a prize. This situation was completely different because our supervisor was a student and went through a placement system that at least tried to match his skills and interests with the needs of our particular staff.

    (I should also note that in this situation my supervisor was supposed to have a supervisor who was a full-time long-term employee of the university, but that supervisor-while a nice guy-was a horrible fit and ineffectual, so there was a lot of senior employees helping our student manager since we had no direction from above)

  9. voyager1*

    There is one glaring thing here that can cause problems. If the person doing the training to the new manager had applied for the job as manager and didn’t get it… for whatever reason.

    I agree with lots of comments here, a new manager needs to bring things to the table that shows their worth. But also consider that the new manager needs to make the good impression that they are going to be more then a clueless outsider who got the job because they had “management experience” or whatever. The microscope is going to be on that new person those few months, something to keep in mind with their staff.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      There is one glaring thing here that can cause problems. If the person doing the training to the new manager had applied for the job as manager and didn’t get it… for whatever reason.

      This actually happened at a for-profit school I used to work for. Our director was let go unexpectedly, so our assistant director stepped in and did her job until our corporate headquarters could find someone to replace her. Well, the assistant director applied for the job since she was doing it already anyway, but they hired someone who had no management experience in a school setting (I think he had retail management experience though). The assistant director was not happy that she was passed over for this job for someone with no experience in the industry when she’d been there for years. Then they made her train him, which to her, was like adding salt to the wound. Ultimately, I think she got over it, but it was awkward for everyone the first couple of weeks he was there.

        1. Doriana Gray*

          True, but I think corporate wanted a certain “look” for the role and, as fun and…spirited as my old assistant director looked and behaved, she really wasn’t as polished as the director they fired or the one they hired to replace her. It was a shame because all of the students and staff loved the assistant director, and I think she would have brought a different kind of energy to the place.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            I think this is a symptom of a much larger hiring issue, which is people often making hiring decisions based on who looks good on paper… as opposed to who would be best for the job.

            I had to fight once to get someone hired who had zero years of direct on-paper experience but was clearly the best for the job and had the tech skills we sorely needed for the position just because my boss was more interested in someone else who couldn’t find her way around a spreadsheet but technically had several years’ experience in our field…

            1. voyager1*

              Also people who are the deciders see people in a certain role and that is all they see them in even when they are rockstar at that job. Also some people in management feel threatened by ambitious people, so they hide behind the idea that management skills actually exist or mean anything on a resume or whatever.
              I have said before on here but I will say it again. Being a manager means someone takes a chance on you. Many in management forget that and start to believe that they actually have some magic skills that make them awesome because they have a title.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                I’m dealing with typecasting myself right now, and the longer I stay in my current position, the worse it’ll be. *sigh*

  10. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Here’s what bugs me.

    I used to work for an executive who was brought in to get things done.  Wonderful.  What rubbed me the wrong way is that he didn’t know how to actually do anything or how things functioned in his department.  Sure he would ask questions and we would talk him through it, but there was something irritating about that.  Most of that knowledge wasn’t retained.  Why would you head a department you don’t know anything about?  His predecessor acted very similarly.

    After some time I figured out why this exec bugged me: he looked at scenarios and ordered people around; he never actually produced anything the way that other execs did: reports, presentations, status updates, research, etc.

    I don’t get this vibe from you because you sound like you have some subject matter knowledge in what you’re doing.  Learning which database to use when and where is cosmetic in terms of your job.  But knowing how to manage a group of people to get multiple substantive outcomes?  That’s more important.

    Then again, maybe this executive demonstrates exactly what more of us should be doing — going for higher positions without overthinking the knowledge requirements.  Or…maybe not.

  11. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    This is one of those times when it can be useful to think of managers and non-managers not as people on different levels of the hierarchy, but as people with different roles to fill.

    My job as a manager is to do big-picture strategy stuff, to evaluate people, to figure out what’s next, and to get us there (and lots of technical stuff). My primary role isn’t to provide services to clients. While I can, and do, provide services to clients sometimes, the people I employ to do that as their primary role are really better at it. That’s their role. And for many, their talent. The big-picture stuff and the technical stuff is mine. I don’t need to be better than them at their work, and they don’t need to learn how to do my work. I have too many employees to know what all of them are doing every minute of the day, and I often have to ask a lot – a LOT – of questions – about software, processes, how things work, historical context, etc. when my help is needed or we’re making plans. Maybe sometimes people feel like I should already know this stuff, but if I took the time to keep up with the day-to-day of all that work, I wouldn’t have time to do my job – and they they really wouldn’t like me being their manager! And more often than not, it’s not actually helpful for me to get involved in the details – they are the experts in their own work.

    The manager’s job isn’t to be all-knowing. It’s to do the management part of things. That’s a different skill set.

    1. voyager1*

      I think this is the best response yet on this subject. The only thing I would add is the more technical the field the more of expectation of expertise in that field the manager should have.

  12. Ann Furthermore*

    I think it’s great for a manager to be trained on some things by his or her team. One of the best bosses I ever had scheduled an hour with each of her direct reports as soon as she started, so she could learn about their jobs, and learn what their challenges were and what they needed help with. She took it a step further and did each person’s account reconciliations for a month or 2 (it was an accounting department), so she could learn the accounts, how they behaved, what types of transactions flowed in and out each month, and what the normal reconciling items were. It immediately endeared her to the team, and everyone had a great deal of respect for her. And it was a good move. In the accounting world, if your balance sheet is solid, then you’re probably in good shape. And you know it’s solid when all your balance sheet accounts are reconciled.

    When she (sadly) left, they brought in another guy whose approach was completely hands-off. I was managing one of the teams in the group by that time, and I encouraged him to do this same thing to get to know his team and about their jobs, first because the team really appreciated it, but more importantly because she was able to jump right into things and get to work. He never did. When I suggested that he do each person’s account reconciliations for a couple of months, his response was, “I don’t do account reconciliations. I’m the manager. That means I manage.” Well, yes, you manage. But you can’t manage very effectively if you don’t know anything about your team, or any of their jobs, or how they do their jobs, or the things that they struggle and need help with. Not surprisingly, the entire department thought he was a pompous jerk who talked a good game but had little, if anything, of substance to back up what he said.

    1. Kelly O*

      I think, as a person being managed, I would really appreciate this from a new manager.

      I’ve had new managers who wanted to sit down and talk about what I do, and I’ve had others who sat with me during the day, took notes, asked questions, and just said “do what you do” – the latter were almost always the better managers.

      It seems to foster a more team-oriented environment if you feel your boss does not think she’s above the tasks you perform daily (and bonus points if that person is appreciative of how EVERYONE’S contributions work toward making the team successful.)

      1. Paquita*

        I have a new supervisor who was promoted into the job from within our department but another area. Now that she is comfortable with the main large process we do she is starting to schedule time to sit with everyone and learn the things we do. She will sit with me and observe two of my processes on Wednesday. Not only do we appreciate this but I am being forced to document stuff that is only stored in my memory right now. Most of this someone would be able to figure out but they should not need to. :( Mostly a list of ‘problem’ customers and how to handle them.

  13. Em*

    Not exactly the same, but I recently had to train a coworker (not a manager but still above me on the hierarchy) that was promoted because she had no idea how to do her new job, even though the person she was replacing still worked in the same department (open concept office plan so she was about 20 feet away). It was extremely demoralizing because I started to resent the fact that she was promoted, when I already knew all the ins and outs and daily task of this position (since I work so closely with the person that performs that job). She only had one month’s seniority over me, but since she is friends with the manager she got the job instead of me. It annoyed me so much that I almost quit over it.

  14. The Other Dawn*

    I would say, in my experience, it’s totally normal for direct reports to train the manger when it comes to how systems work, how certain tasks work, who does what, and other departmental procedures. Sure, the boss will train you on things the direct reports wouldn’t know anything about, but it’s usually on the direct reports to train. I think it’s a good way to build rapport with your direct reports, and also get a good understanding of how they work. When someone trains another, deficiencies can become very apparent, whereas they may have been under the radar previously. Having someone train you helps them to cement the knowledge in their head, and you to take note of anything that is being done incorrectly, or if that person is taking shortcuts, etc.

  15. Tomato Frog*

    I do sympathize with the OP, but this reminds me of an experience I had with my boss. Early on at my job, I complimented her on a solution she suggested for work we (her underlings) were doing. My manager said “That’s why I’m the boss and you guys aren’t.” I feel like I could become a good boss just by following an opposite management philosophy from the one she expressed in that sentence.

  16. AvonLady Barksdale*

    After I left the Big Company I worked at for almost 10 years, three people– on separate occasions– told me that my replacement didn’t actually replace me. She only had half of my skillset. That’s not a horrible thing, but the trouble was, she refused to learn. I think that’s key– if a manager comes in without some technical knowledge, the willingness to sit down and say to a direct report, “Hey, can you help me with this” goes so far. My replacement completely alienated her team by expecting them to do everything, including what she was supposed to be doing, thus stalling their growth and making it look like their new manager didn’t care about them as people or staff. They were frustrated, and they all ended up leaving within the year.

  17. AnotherHRPro*

    As others have said, this is very common. The one tip I would add is that as a manager learning what your team does, it is important to show appreciation and respect to your direct reports. After all, they have knowledge that you do not currently have and are spending time showing you how their work gets done.

    I am fortunate to lead a team of very capable and technical folks. I can’t do what they do and my job isn’t to do what they do. However, I do need to understand and value their work.

  18. Temperance*

    At my last job, I was not promoted to the role that I was supposedly being groomed for. Instead, they went with an outside hire, and tried to make it seem like they were doing me a favor. (This was a job that kept asking me to jump through hoops for a promotion, but whenever I did what they asked me to, they found something else preventing me from advancing.)

    It was really demoralizing and made me feel like garbage to have to train my new manager on all the processes that were going to become HER job. You know, the processes that I had been learning for months. Oh, but they were so considerate, they let me keep doing some of her work without giving me a raise, because I was interested in higher-level work above basic admin stuff. Ugh.

  19. L*

    I just had to train a manager with absolutely no skills and it really sucked. I wouldn’t have minded training her on certain aspects of paperwork, etc., but this was like “no, don’t tell people to shut up, no, you’re being mean, no, please don’t scream at people.” it sucked and I’m looking for a new job because I can’t believe I’m getting paid 10 dollars less than her to teach her basic skills. But that’s what happens when the best friend of the company’s president gets hired!

  20. L*

    What about when the person doing the managerial training needs support? I work in social services and I was expected to train my manager. I was dealing with multiple extreme cases, court dates, giving testimonies, etc., and my new “manager” was completely unable to provide any support because if I wasn’t there to tell her what to do she’d just sit at her desk and sulk.

    …on writing this out there’s multiple issues wrong with this scenario I’m in.Hm.

  21. Tattooine*

    We recently had a 360 degree review of management overall, and much of the feedback was centered on the fact that they can’t do our job (one GS grade below them) and don’t have a sense of what we juggle all day. As a result, they’ve been instructed to shadow us and do more to understand our roles and some of the technical policy guidance we provide. I’d say it’s pretty standard to have the working-level staff teach how to do their jobs. In fact, one of my biggest bugaboos is when management issues a decree without having any sense of the impact of said decree. A strategy like this would help mitigate those concerns.

  22. brownblack*

    Until recently I was an exec assistant to an exec with a very complicated job. She recently left, and I had about 2 months of uncertainty about what would happen to me (while I continued doing my job AND her job simultaneously).

    Last week one of the department heads who used to report to the exec was appointed to fill her job. This poor woman has NO CLUE how to do anything other than her own job (which she does very very well) and our CEO basically told me that he was hoping I would help her “grow” into this new role (which, by the way, she has to do in addition to doing her previous job.)

    This situation is a mess and it’s turning me into a mess and I am NOT happy.

  23. Elizabeth Computerhands*

    I’m about to face this, where we are getting a new manager, and I’ll be one of the ones doing some training. The old manager will to, but it’s inevitable that the rest of us will have to get them up to speed as well.
    We have some very specific IT tools that I’m sure they won’t have experience in, so it is what it is.
    We are hoping to find someone who can pick things up quickly, and wants to learn, so it isn’t so awkward. I wouldn’t expect a manager to know everything about our job right off the bat. And the way things are setup here, there isn’t anyone else who can do the training.

  24. UsedToDoSupport*

    My manager has been here nearly six years and still doesn’t know who does what. He’s good at the financial stuff, but you would think after so long he wouldn’t have to wander around to find out who does the website that needs an update.

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I had a manager just like this a few years ago. She’d been in the department for over 10 years, she’d been managing for nearly half that time, and still she knew nothing about what we did. Granted, our processes and procedures changed almost daily, but it was almost like she couldn’t be bothered to learn what we all did. Then she would call herself “helping us” during peak work periods and would inevitably screw things up. I can’t tell you how many fires we had to put out with clients because of her. It was so bad, she’d email our team asking us to do something and our supervisor would immediately email us all telling us to disregard our manager’s directive and continue with whatever it was we were doing, lol.

  25. Former Computer Professional*

    Working with computers is one of those fields where nobody notices you until something goes wrong.

    Many, many years ago I worked some place that was staffed 24×7. No matter what, every time something went wrong – and something -always- goes wrong with computers, no matter how hard you try – there’d be screams of how incompetent we all were.

    The senior boss, who had been there for about a year, decided that he should go through our training system to learn more about what we did. He wasn’t completely ignorant of our jobs, but it was one of those every-place-does-it-differently things, and he wanted to get more up to speed on our way.

    At the time, we were training people on the third (midnight-to-eight) shift, because there was more regularity to the work, so it was a good time to have things drilled into your head. The boss was showing up at midnight, working with us until 8, then working his regular “I’m the boss stuff” job from 8 until about 4, when he’d go home and get a few hours sleep. He held up this schedule for a whole week, and at night he was working his tail off.

    There were two huge benefits from this: One was that when we got short-staffed during the day, when customers demands meant things would start to fall behind, he would come down and pitch in until the backlog was caught up.

    The other benefit was that when people went to him complaining about our “incompetence,” he would let them have it. He’d tell them how he’d trained for a week, how he saw just how difficult the job could be, and how much work it is, and if the complainer was willing to go do the same (that is, spend a week with us) he would gladly hear their complaints, but until then they could just SHUT THE [censored] UP.

  26. schnapps*

    Not to get too far off topic…

    Several years back it was the Grand Ol’ Strike of ’07 and we were out for 13 weeks (second longest strike in our union’s history – and only short by a week or so at that). The last few days before we went out (it was a 72 hour notice) my manager was scrambling to figure out how we did our job because it would be up to her to deal with it when we weren’t there.

    I think managers should always learn the basics of the process just in case the office worker bees are decimated. And it may be up to the bees to train the manager, and that’s fine.

  27. RMRIC0*

    I’d also imagine that “training” the manager gives the manager a good chance to check out how her employees approach tasks and their work; and maybe let the employee get to know the manager is a way that isn’t adversarial or so tense (though I can understand there might be a bit of a chip, especially if one of the employees doing the training had applied for the position). Of course someone more senior or the manger’s boss might not even know how to do the tasks a manager’s direct reports are responsible for depending on how the organization is arranged.

  28. Jules the First*

    I’ve been trying to figure out what got my goat about training the last manager they tried to install above my team and I think the problem was that no one made any allowances in the rest of my workload, so I was trying to train someone new (who needed a huge time investment because he’d somewhat ‘oversold’ his skillset) while still trying to keep up on the rest of my (already in humane) workload. So not only was I still doing the higher-level tasks he’d been hired to take off my plate, I was holding his hand on them, fixing his mistakes, AND doing the 80% of my job that he was completely uninterested in learning about.

    Contrast that with the next time I trained a manager: he asked what the most important and most time consuming parts of my job were; after I’d explained those, he asked what my biggest frustrations were; and he asked what I thought he could do to help my workload go more smoothly. Finally, he asked which land mines I thought he should be wary of for his first six months, which I thought was a very insightful question.

    OP, perhaps if you are sensing resentment from your trainers, you should make sure you spread the load between them (so that they still have time to address the rest of their workload) and frame the training less as ‘please teach me how to do my job’ and more ‘please teach me what you think I need to know to help you do better in your job’

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