On a popular online training forum where thousands of trainers participate, a common issue crops up several times a year. Many trainers feel (and rightly so), that their expertise and contributions are unrecognized by senior decision-makers, and that trainers and training departments are rarely included in discussions about very serious organizational decisions. The complaint is "We don't have a seat at the table".
That's probably true. Trainers aren't held in terribly high esteem. One reason may be cultural, and having to do with a notion that teaching in any form is simple, easy, and "anyone can do it", and that's affected teaching at all levels from public school through high school and into adult education. At one time, one didn't need any formal training at all to teach children. Of course, that's changed now but the legacy effect is still in place for teachers, and in training there are no formal qualifications either.
None of us can do much about that. And there are certainly trainers, and training departments that can offer much more than "giving seminars". Trainers have a lot of information about organizations, and how to improve, them, or at least some trainers do. So what else is involved?
Often trainers and training departments contribute to being marginalized. If the training function is not tied to business results BY THE TRAINING PERSONNEL, then why should anyone else see the value of training, or trainers? If the training department sees it's role as dispensing training as a cure for everything, or as a commodity, is it surprising that they are not seen as particularly valuable or informed about business?
If the training department cannot speak the language of senior business executives, or understand the needs and concerns of decision-makers, is it surprising that training personnel are left out of the decision making?
Although this may sound bleak, "being left out" is not universal. Trainers who are expert, well trained, tie in their services to business results, speak the language and address the concerns of decision-makers, and so on, will be consulted more often in decision-making and not simply approached to implement solutions others have developed without the input of the trainers or training department.
Also, the head of a training department and his or her skills will determine how the department and the function is viewed. An excellent proactive, and politically ware head will do wonders for getting a better seat at the table.
In short when trainers and training departments act as consultants rather tha providers of commodities, their stock rises. Maybe not as high as they would like, but neverthess a customer and business orientation does increase the chances of being seen as an important and valued player.