It's mostly myth, this perspective on trainers and their role in motivating. However, it depends on how one defines motivation. It may be the case that "trainers" are quite limited in their ability to "light a permanent fire" under people who seem to lack motivation in all aspects of their lives, although, interestingly enough there's a huge market for motivational speakers.
But can trainers impact on the motivation of learner to learn what is being presented to them during training, and to use it after training? The answer is yes.
First, trainers can increase levels of attention during learning and training by introducing change, novelty, and variety into the learning environment. The use of Stimulus Variation Techniques fits this function. In other words motivation can be increased by effective presentation and learning activities. People will pay more attention. Of course this doesn't affect learners' tendency to use what is learned after they leave training.
Second, trainers can increase the transfer of what is learned to the workplace through the use of motivation techniques. The key technique is to ensure that learners understand the why's of what is learned, and the consequences of applying what is learned, or the consequences of not applying what is learned. When learners understand those things it tends to energize them to learn and use what is learned.
Keep these in mind:
- Trainers cannot control learner motivation, but they can influence it. Then again trainers can't control whether learning takes place, but they can influence that.
- It's a professional responsibility of trainers to provide for motivation during training (for an instructional model that addresses this click here).
- If you attend or purchase training, when you come across a trainer who tells you he or she can't, shouldn't and doesn't motivate people, consider other trainers or delve deeper into why they take that position.
- Lay use of the term motivation often refers to general motivation. It's better to think of it as "motivation to [behavior], since, in terms of training, that's what we do.