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How to get Training and Development from your Boss

Updated on October 18, 2012


Your boss is neither responsible for nor inclined to develop your career. Bosses from heaven may be inclined to give you some career development advice, if you ask for it. But most bosses are less concerned with the employee’s future than his presence-doing his present job the way it is supposed to be done. This said, we should, at this point, make a definition of terms before proceeding. What is the difference between training and development, or are they the same thing? In some respects, they involve the same things. In other respects they are very different.

Training is defined by experts in the field as formal or informal, classroom or practical experiences to develop knowledge or skill to enhance the employee ability to better perform his or her present job. Development may involve formal classroom experiences or practical on-the-job experiences, but are designed to develop or improve the employee’s qualifications to perform higher level jobs that are a part of the employee’s career objectives. Training focuses on the presence, development focuses on the future for the employee.

Traditionally, if the boss or management generally, was at all supportive of the employee being trained, it was for training to enhance the employee’s performance in the employee’s present job. But even here, the employee who wanted and needed to be trained faced certain difficulties, with which I am quite familiar, as I was a director of training and development for a large organization for ten years and spent over thirty years as a consultant in training and development. Some of the problems were and still are as follows:

1. If the boss is from the old school and learned his job through experience, he may not have appreciation for classroom training and may think it a waste of money.

2. Even if the boss appreciates the value of classroom training, he may not see the need for it. The employee is frequently more attuned to the technological changes required for their job and may be more familiar with the available training that addresses those changes.

3. Even if the boss sees the need and benefit for the training for the employee, he may be reluctant to have the employee be absent from the job to attend the training, even if it is only for one day.

4. Sometimes, when the boss requires that the employee take a certain kind of training, it can be taken by the employee to be insulting or punitive. For instance, if a boss requires the employee take a course to improve his writing skills, the employee may feel insulted and totally turned off to the idea, especially if there had never been any indication that there was anything wrong with the he wrote.

When it comes to development, the employee faces even more resistance or non-response from the boss. Because most bosses are far more concerned about their own career development than they are with that of their employees, the result can be a no-win for the employee. If the employee is one with less than stellar performance quality, he or she may be deemed unworthy of the time and money for career development. If the employee has great performance quality and is highly valued, the boss may be so selfish as to place barriers to the employee’s career development for fear that the boss may lose him.

From what has been said thus far, it should be clear that if the employee is to get the kind of training and development he or she feels entitled to from the boss or from the organization, he or she cannot sit back and wait in frustration for something to happen. This takes action!


Your career development will not come to you; you must make it happen with your assertive actions. Waiting for your boss or the organization will ensure that it will not happen. Making your career development happen takes your own initiative. Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Assess your realistic training needs for your present job, if any. Look at past performance appraisals, but not very seriously. Bosses are notorious for failing to give their employees fair and accurate feedback on their performance. Look more seriously at the job-has it changed in nature, requiring new skills or knowledge that you need to acquire?

2. Make a list of needed skill/knowledge upgrading or improvement. Make statements that generally describe the needed training, such as, “advanced use of graphics” or “more knowledge of federal procurement regulations”. If there are no areas of needed training in your present job, then this step can be skipped.

3. Identify you’re your short-term career goals within the organization-where are you now and where do you want to be within three to five years. It is important to focus on short term career goals because short-term goals eventually lead to more realistic long-term goals. It is also important to limit your career goals to opportunities within the organization because no boss is going to support you in your attempt to become qualified for jobs outside the organization. If you are far along in your career or if you feel you have gone as far as you can within your organization, then you do not have to be concerned with a training and development plan at all.

4. Go to the training and development department or the human resources office and consult with a training specialist. Ask for specific seminars or training classes to address the areas of needed training for you present job. Look at both internal and external courses and both classroom and self-learning training approaches.

5. Find out the minimum qualifications in terms of education, skills and knowledge for the next position in your career goals. Compare those qualifications with your present ones. Identify the gaps in your background that need to be addressed by education and training.

6. Draw up a Development Agenda for the next year. This agenda could include working toward college degree, if that is required, technical training, soft skill training, application for an intern or job rotation program to develop the required experience and other development.

7. The resulting document is your training and development plan. The list of training programs, either for your present job or for your future job need not have specific schedules or time for attendance. This can be put in later.

8. Schedule a discussion with your boss in which you present your training and development plan for his or her consideration and support. This makes the boss aware of your career objectives and your training needs.

9. Schedule each training event at a time that will not present a problem for the boss, such as during off-peak times when maximum staff resources may not be needed.

10. At the completion of each training event, place a copy of the certificate of successful completion in your human resources file, so that your chance for future promotions will be enhanced.

Those organizations that have an organized and formal training and development planning process, done annually by both the supervisor and the employee jointly will make the addressing of the training and development needs of the employee automatic. But those organizations are few at the present time. If your organization is like most, then you will have to take the initiative to devise your own training and development plan and seek the approval or support of your boss. This is an approach that you can use.


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