How Do We Want to Be Perceived?

June 14, 2013 10:35 by Dana Peters

I was on the road earlier this week with Greg Owen-Boger from Turpin Communication. Turpin is one of my Learning Partners and we were in Appleton, WI, for the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Society of Training & Development’s monthly program. The chapter goes by NEW ASTD for short.

As a Mondo presenter, Greg delivered his session: “Engaging Learners in the Orderly Conversation - Tried & True Techniques for Engaging Today's Learner”.

One of the discussions Greg leads early on in this session starts with this simple question:

How do we, as learning and development professionals, want to be perceived?

Since I have been in the audience for this session several times now, I have heard many of the same responses from my fellow colleges across the Midwest and beyond. I found the following list the participants came up with at the NEW ASTD session to be a good example of what we typically hear.

(Hopefully you can read Greg’s writing!)

What do you think?

  • What would you add to this list?
  • As a profession, are we there yet? If you don’t think we are, what obstacles are in our way? Are there practices within our industry that hurt our reputation with senior leadership, clients, stakeholders, and/or learners?

We, here at Mondo, have some opinions about this but I thought we would put our soap box out “on the street” for this one.

I look forward to your thoughts. Thanks, NEW ASTD members, for inspiring this post.

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Learning Trends | Train the Trainer | Turpin Communication

Comments (4) -

Robin Pierman
Robin Pierman United States
6/15/2013 1:02:08 AM #

Professional, knowledgeable, compassionate


Dana Peters
Dana Peters United States
6/17/2013 6:30:27 AM #

Thanks for the additions to the above list, Robin. Compassionate is not one that is mentioned regularly.


Barry Altland
Barry Altland United States
6/18/2013 3:13:22 PM #

Dana, Greg shared this link with me, and I felt compelled to jump in! I certainly have a few thoughts on this topic, and have been vocal within the ranks of the ASTD local chapter presence in sharing my guideposts for the profession. I like the list, with one exception--I would suggest removing the "entertaining, not boring" item. All of the other desired perceptions can, and should be applied to the WLP professional's role as a performance solutions partner. This one item, in stark contrast, assumes that the WLP professional is also always the person at the front of the room. Wrong at a number of levels. First, it is not always the WLP professional who is the facilitator. SMEs can, and should be, facilitators, too, and it is our role to partner with them to effectively share their knowledge and skill with others. Second, the WLP practitioner is not just a facilitator, or "trainer," as some of our peers and partners are prone to saying. That is such a limiting view of the profession in the 21st century, and it is sad that some organizations still employ people to just be stand-up "trainers." So very 1970s. As well, this statement reflects that live, synchronous learning is the only kind that is still occurring, and we all know that to not be true. What about asynchronous? What about all technology-based learning? What about informal learning in all its forms? Lastly, even when a WLP professional is in the role of facilitator, it is not ours to "entertain," to instead to inspire learning. Those who think they are the "show," have it all wrong. They (strong statement here) essentially are holding the profession back from achieving the other items on the list. How do I know this to be true? Because I am the embodiment of all I share above. I am a damn good facilitator, one of the best you may ever observe, and yet I know that facilitation as a learning platform is only one of many means to an end. And I sure as hell do not attempt or strive to be "entertaining," although others share that they enjoy their time in learning with me.


Dana Peters
Dana Peters United States
6/18/2013 3:34:01 PM #


Thank you for taking a moment to chime in. It is evident from your post that you are very passionate about our profession.

I agree, our role is not to provide entertainment and the word entertaining would not be the first word I would like to come to the minds of leadership, stake-holders, or learners when they think of us. Engaging, thought provoking and results oriented would. As you alluded to, the mentality of being entertaining may be one of the obstacles in our way to being perceived the way we would like.

Thanks, again, for your perspective.



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