Expert Tips on How to Earn Your Seat at the Table

June 19, 2019

Too often, I have heard training directors complain, “We can’t get a seat at the table, so how are we supposed to play a major role in the company!” I have heard senior training directors from major banks complain, “We don’t have MBAs. How are we supposed to understand the bank’s business!” 

I met an experienced training manager at a high-tech company. While she finished a conference call, I looked around her office. On her wall was a framed letter from the company’s CEO welcoming her to the company. I asked her about the letter and she said, “I had it framed because I know it is the only time during my tenure here that I will ever have any kind of contact with him.”

I asked the manager of a 25-person training group with responsibility for training the thousands of consultants in three of his firm’s business units to send me a copy of the latest annual report, and a list of the top five business goals for each of the business units his group supported. His reply was, “I don’t really have access to that kind of stuff.”

It is not up to the organization’s leaders to give you a seat at the planning table. If you really want to become a vital asset to your company, you need to learn about the business – you need to earn your seat at the table. The first step is to learn about the company goals.

Here is a list of possible methods:

  • Read through the company website
  • Read the company’s annual report
  • Subscribe to company webcasts
  • Subscribe to company podcasts
  • Subscribe to company Facebook page
  • Subscribe to company tweets
  • Follow company on LinkedIn
  • Set up a Google-alert for company news
  • Network with people inside the company
  • Set up lunch meetings
  • Invite people from different groups to meet with training staff
  • Assign training staff members as liaisons to various groups
  • Take part in company sport leagues
  • Take part in company community projects
  • Set up a Learning Advisory Board

To learn more about earning your seat at the table, read Tobin’s new book, On-Target Learning: Redefining Organizational Learning

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