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As the job title implies, a management trainee is someone who is in training to become a manager. The duties assigned to this position can vary widely depending on the industry and the company. In general, however, the position often entails spending a certain amount of time shadowing each position under the manager's authority so the trainee can learn what each employee does and how all the work fits together. Trainees typically assist a manager with day-to-day duties, including paperwork, personnel management, scheduling, reporting and any other tasks the trainee will be responsible for as a full manager. In addition, most management trainee programs include a traditional learning component, in which trainees watch videos, read manuals and attend seminars to learn about company policies, processes and goals.
Managers in most companies spend a tremendous amount of time completing electronic or physical paperwork. This can include request forms, advertising forms, personnel documents, order forms and reports on a vast array of topics. A management trainee will often be assigned to complete these forms so he can learn the correct way to do so. A manager or supervisor then reviews the paperwork and discusses mistakes or omissions with the trainee.
Personnel management is another key area of responsibility for managers and, therefore, for management trainees. Trainees are unlikely to make actual hiring and firing decisions, but are often included in such decisions so they will learn how to handle them in the future. Trainees might perform initial interviews with potential employees and may be responsible for creating and placing ads for job openings. In certain industries, managing the employee schedule is a critical function, so trainees are often tasked with this job.
Depending on the company, various other duties may be assigned to a management trainee. He might be required to sit on committees, participate in cross-functional teams or complete on-the-job training in other areas of the company, for instance. Some companies, particularly in the retail and food service sectors, require management trainees to spend at least one day actually performing each of the jobs they will eventually oversee.
In most cases, a management trainee can expect to spend at least part of his time reading process manuals, watching instructional videos and participating in seminars or classes. This is often the most efficient way for a company to transmit information, particularly when more than one individual is going through a training program simultaneously. Classes often focus on learning company history, goals, policies and procedures, and may also encompass scenario-based learning, in which trainees are presented with a situation, challenge or problem and asked to resolve it effectively.
The more time and effort companies spend training up-and-coming managers, the stronger it will become. New managers learn the ropes from those currently in charge, and bring along their new, innovative ideas. This combination helps companies evolve as business changes, and leads to longevity.