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Jul 26, 2012

It’s not unlike the neighbors who are smarter than the parents in the eyes of child.

The trainers you bring into your organization to develop employees are seen as smarter than just the boss. That’s because they aren’t there every day with their briefcase in hand. Yes, they have a different voice, but there’s more to it than that.

Why do employees listen to a trainer more than their leader even if both have said the same thing?

1. Trainers share their credentials

In order to get hired, a trainer must have credentials. They share certifications, awards, and industry experience. All of this is used in promoting the class or introducing the trainer. The result is instant credibility.

When was the last time you let the team you lead know what you’ve done? When was the last time you subtly shared your climb up the ladder? People need to know not just who you are now, but what brought you here to lead them.

2. Trainers talk with authority

It takes a certain amount of ego to lead a room of participants, and that ego sounds authoritative for those trainers with experience. Participants listen to and respond to authority and will often try to do as the trainer says once they’ve created buy-in. The beauty of this model is you can ask the trainer to share your message and it will be heard at a level different than if you just repeat it in the morning meeting.

A new voice of authority captures attention. The same old voice that shares both good and bad news is often tuned out like TV commercials.

3. Trainers usually travel

The old joke about how you define a consultant is that they carry a briefcase, charge $100 bucks an hour, and drove at least 50 miles.

Your commute may be that long or longer, but you’re there every day and employees are used to you. Someone who traveled just for them gets more of their attention and interest because they’re new and different. Use this to your advantage when you want to convey information to a team who sees you and says “yah, yah, yah.” Their response to the traveling trainer from the outside world is likely to sound more like “Really? Tell me more.”

Parents are perhaps the most familiar with how this model works. A teenager asks a question, gets the answer and quickly dismisses it as being just the parent’s opinion. That same teen asks the neighbor a question gets the same response, and the neighbor is an instant genius.

This is often why in-house training departments lose credibility. There is tremendous value in outsourcing the training and development of those you lead.

It’s not that the trainers from outside your organization actually ARE smarter than the leaders of your company; it’s that participants PERCEIVE them to know more or better. And as you know, perceptions are everything.

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