Dealing With Problem Trainees

Here are a few pointers to help you deal with trainees who insist on giving you a hard time.
Dealing with problem trainees

One of the hardest things for trainers to deal with seems to be employees who cause a ruckus during their training sessions. How do you deal with problem trainees without treating them like children? Here are a few tips that may help you out during your next session.

Let your trainees know what you expect from them

Point out to trainees that you expect to see appropriate behavior in your session and give them examples of what you think is appropriate behavior. What one person finds reasonable may not be the case for someone else.

Let the trainee know how you feel through body language

Instead of putting the trainee on the spot, communicate with him or her without saying anything. Make eye contact and shake your head calmly to let him know that you don´t approve. Your face should be calm and reserved - don´t shoot an icy stare because it won´t work.

Don´t deal with the problem alone

Chances are that if a trainee is making your life miserable, he or she is doing the same for the other trainees. They attended your session to learn, so they will most likely be on your side to help you fix the problem. The next time a trainee pipes up with a critical remark, ask another trainee what he thinks about her thoughts. His remarks may bring Sarah down to earth.

Give the trainee a leadership role

If a trainee has so many opinions about how things should be run, make him a leader of a group exercise. He may just be looking for attention from the group and may feel welcome that you thought he was leader material. There is one problem with this method however; a loudmouth in a leadership position could possibly take over the group discussion, not giving other trainees a chance to voice their opinions.

Ask the trainee to back up his or her opinion

The next time a trainee voices her opinion, ask her to back up her argument. It´ll include her in the conversation and hopefully make her feel as though she is making a positive contribution.

Talk to the trainee alone

Call for a coffee break. When everyone is gone, ask the trainee to stay behind to discuss your concerns. Ask him if it´s personal and how you can work together to solve the issue. Tell him that if the problem persists, you will have to take certain measures, which include asking him to leave the session and contacting his manager. Make sure he understands the consequences.


These methods of dealing with problem trainees are by no means solutions to every case. If you have problems with a trainee, choose a method that is consistent with your personality, otherwise it may seem as though you have no control over the session. Remember, you do not have to put up poor behavior, but as a trainer, you should know how to deal with it.

Do know of any ideas to deal with problem trainees? Tell me about it - email me at MissOpenSource[at] If you would like your name to be anonymous, let me know in the email.

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