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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Who Has a Seat at Your Table?

the advisors around your table are the key to your own impact

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

If you've been reading The Training Tipsheet for a while, you've probably caught on to the way the phrase "seat at the table" winds me up. I've heard this phrase trotted out at gatherings of training staff, and seen it in blogs and forum discussions, and it generally refers to the desire of the training function in an organization to have influence at the highest level. Having training represented in executive level structures, advising the company on key decisions, is seen as a sort of Holy Grail of corporate training life.

But let's forget about training's advisory function to the rest of the company for a moment, and explore how the rest of the company advises the training function in your organization.

After all, you do have a formal or informal board of advisors supporting your training unit, do you not?

The way to develop influence at the highest levels is to demonstrate effectiveness at the lower levels of the organization. If you provide training services that lead to better productivity, lower costs and fewer problems, you can leverage that into attention from the leaders of your company.

And those kinds of results come from being close to the front lines, understanding the needs of other functions in your organization, adapting what you do to fit the different environments, and even cultures, of different regions and functions.

Advisors from other units can tell you what's coming, what they will need in the next year or two. They can tell you what's working, and what doesn't seem to be making much of a difference -- and that kind of honest feedback is one of the most valuable resources you will ever tap into. They can give insights into the business of your company that you will never get from a "seat at the executive table," insights that open the door for you to be more cost-effective, to have a greater impact on the organization's success, to focus your effort where it will make the most difference.

Naturally, as your board of advisors realizes that you really listen to them, you will develop relationships and build support that will extend your influence and amplify the contribution you can make to your company. Forming a team, with common interests, at lower levels of the organization is one of the surest paths to being invited to join the team at the top.

So put some serious attention into filling the seats around your table, creating that circle of advisors that can give you good counsel on how you can best advance the goals of your company. Put the right people in those seats at your table, and your chances at a seat or two at some other influential tables in the organization will be much, much better.

© 2009 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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