Dear Seniors,
I need your expert advice to understand how a junior employee (if he/she is competent) can provide training inputs to somebody who is senior to them in experience & age.There is identified training need for a group of staff in our company who are working at imporatant position but we need to give them some inputs on basic Management skills.The trainer is quiet nervous to address the seniors & even I am worried about how seriously the seniors will take her.
Looking towards their age I don't think they will appreciate an input from a junior employee.Pls suggest how to give these inputs so that the results are visible in their working.

From India, Nagpur
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Deepika,

You have mentioned your problem broadly. Please confirm the following:

a) Which training programme you would like to conduct and why?

b) What skills are expected to be built by conducting this training programme?

c) How come the junior trainer has developed these skills? Has the trainer implemented these skills in practice or it will be just training sans personal experience?

Yes, the age of the trainer or faculty plays an important role. However, the 21st century is different. One cannot view things from the perspective of Guru-Shishya parampara. Today's Guru need not be grey-haired. Technology is changing fast and everybody cannot master everything. Knowledge is growing by leaps and bounds and it is important to gain knowledge even from some junior also.

However, much depend on the culture of the company also. In IT companies, the trainer could be a junior one and it is considered as norm. However, if this is not the case in your company then let MD call all the participants and address their need for the training and need for learning from someone who is younger in age. Importance should be given to who knows what rather than who is older/younger to whom.

As far as a trainer is concerned, tell her to handle the session normally as she handles it. Tell her to use all the practices of adult learning.

Caveat: - Since the training is on "Basic Management Skills", the trainer should be mature enough to handle the problems tossed by the participants. Sometimes seniors may tell tricky problems. In case if the trainer fails to provide the right or convincing solution, it could land her in a problem.

My experience: - I have trained seniors so many times. At the end of the training, my participants tell me that "If I had taken this training 20-25 years ago, I would have been a far different person today. The success of the training will depend if the participants carry this feeling back home!


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore
Dear Divekar Sir,
Thanks for your response.Its really vauable.
I was talking about Behavioural Skill Development training prg. & imparting few session on basics of management.Most of the managers are non MBA & Management feels as the business needs has been changed , we do need to change our methods of doing things(or getting things done) ,we need to keep pace with this changes & upgrade ourselves accordining to the business requirement.For eg. the needs & motivators for Gen-Y is different as compared with Gen.X.
We are facing some coordination issues,we have also filled some key positings from outside to fill the skill gaps , so due to this there is some resentment in internal team.Our reposibility is to ensure a smooth work environmnet & upgrade the internal Managers team so that we can promote them further.Their loyalty towards the company is our biggest strength & we want to reward that but after giving some basic inputs on subject mentioned above.

From India, Nagpur
Dinesh Divekar

Dear Deepika,

These types of people are there in many companies and not just in your company. Many of them have very good functional expertise however, they do not take much interest to master managerial skills on their own. This makes them good managers but poor HODs. How to get the work done by the juniors is art and this art is missing in them.

Many companies groom their managers right from the stage when they are non-managers. They are made clear what are managerial competencies. They are taught how they can groom on their own to become tomorrow's managers. As stated in a previous post, I have handled training for such companies/participants several times. I have developed the exclusive programme "Leadership and Motivation" for such participants. Click on the hyperlink to know the details of this training.

Last word on Loyalty: - You have written that "Their loyalty towards the company is our biggest strength". Occasionally, loyalty is often mistaken for a long length of service. Many times such persons are rewarded more because they did not quit and not necessarily because of their competence. I have a simple question to ask. Now your managers or HODs have less managerial skills. Obviously, their less managerial skills have fallen back on the organisational performance in general and their department's performance in particular. Have you measured the cost of underperformance? You might not have measured this cost but possibly you will agree that this loyalty has also come with the cost which certainly cannot be overlooked. Suppose you had managers with very high levels of managerial skills but they had quit and new ones had joined with the same high level of managerial skills. You would not have incurred such a cost in that case. My half decade of experience in managerial training teaches me that nothing is as deceptive as the loyalty of employees, be they managers or otherwise. Therefore, far from strength, loyalty could liability too.


Dinesh Divekar

From India, Bangalore

Dear Deepika,
Such senior people will not take a junior seriously and will find it offensive that they are being trained by a junior because the management feels that they are not competent enough.
Further, your Trainer is also nervous.
In view of the complete situation and keeping the organizational perspective in mind, it is advisable to hire an external trainer who can handle these senior people and drive home the point that you wish to do.
Our senior trainers are experts at these kind of assignments and have delivered excellent results in terms of learning outcomes for senior level employees, as in your case.
We can design and deliver such training session(s) for your organization if you wish to get it done through independent external trainers who have prior experience in handling such matters.
Please feel free to connect to discuss the matter and the way to handle the situation.
Thanks & Regards,

From India, New Delhi

On the basis of what you have told us, I personally do not think this is going to work.

Sadly, in my experience, "senior" managers do not respond readily to anyone, let alone a "junior" telling them how to do their job.

I would ask how these managers got their jobs without basic management skills in the first place. Time to look at the Recruitment and Selection policies methinks.

In most training groups, participants can "smell" fear, and they will use it to try and sabotage the training session. Training seniors in basic skills will require a strong personality up the front, someone who is confident, someone who can engage the trainees, and someone who can cut through the BS that will inevitably occur. It would appear that you are dealing with a cohort who most definitely will NOT want to attend this training, and compelling them is going to cause resentment.

Management skills is an area where a trainer who has been a manager in a previous life will be more successful. They can empathise, and relate real life experiences. A junior trainer simply does not have the life experience.

Going forward, you should be putting in place a training program for juniors that you have identified as potential future managers. Building their skill set before they are promoted means that they will hit the ground running with the basic skills they need for planning, leading and managing staff, and getting the best out of their team. I was lucky enough to be given this opportunity early in my career before I was promoted to my first supervisory position. It is a scheme I have promoted in every organisation I have worked, and has met with great success.

From Australia, Melbourne

Hi John,

I may agree to a certain point of your argument, we have grown old doing what needs to be done. Mostly trainers experience does not count his learning, a learned trainer can be young. The question is how do you take them into confidence so that they are ready to accept learning from you? my best bet is go on a coaching mode, relate to studies of other organizations. If a young trainer is good in behavioral trainings, he can use some psychometric too to associate with them, bring them to a comfortably acceptable level and then facilitate. I remember a session that i had take a decade ago with very senior people, all above the age of 55 and going upto 70 years! the initial mind set was "what will we learn from you at this age?". WHen i started there were 12 people attending the management session, by the end i had 27 senior leaders attending the same! and post the session acknowledging that yes, i had give some insights into management to them ! I had just started with a small personality assessment test, which i was well versed with and that impacted an drew them to attend the entire session. So breaking the ICE if you are proficient in that, Age will not matter, don't get discouraged Deepika, go ahead and confidently take the session!


From India, Mumbai
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