If you are a trainer, if you are a coach, people you meet will always want to know who your clients are. Sometimes it is simple curiosity, sometimes it’s the first step in the name-drop game.
We learn to name-drop early. Who our friends are, how much our parents earn, the houses we live in, where we go to college, what kind of a car we drive, what our major is, where we are interning–all line up in a hierarchy of popularity, income, or status. It’s part of our culture to be successful and competitive. In our culture that is often based in money, the more the higher up on the hierarchy.
Still, when I admit I don’t deliberately pitch the C-suite level (CEO, COO, CIO, CMO), I am given looks that suggest I have suddenly developed facial skin lesions.
Sometimes the conversation turns into schooling me on income-generating. Sometimes there is an embarrassed silence. I’m clearly not smart enough to compete. Sometimes, (and I treasure them), someone asks me why.
Into this silence, I’m always happy to tell people the reason behind my decision. In most corporations, the C-suite level is well-compensated. They have great benefits, too. Parking, company cars, lavish offices, and yes, any training they need.
The managers and line-level workers are often not given time off for training. Taking a class means using vacation times.
Even if the company offers training, it may not be the training the managerial and line-level employees need. Often it’s the training I offer–business writing, persuasive writing, technical writing, grammar and punctuation, even having difficult conversations with co-workers. Those are basic skills that every employee needs to have to be able to have a shot at a better job and better pay.
Without communication skills, there is no sure way up the corporate ladder. Without skills to help them solve problems with their co-workers, they will become their own worst nightmare–the loose cannon who yells or fumes, bullies or belittles, expects results that can’t be reached without breaching safety or speeding past the budget limit. Sometimes, they then become that kind of C-suite denizen.
My work is with people who know they need training and want training. In almost every class I’ve run in the last 18 years, the majority of the class pays attention, does the exercises, asks questions and applies what they have learned. That’s the satisfaction for me–helping give everyone in the company understand how to communicate well. Occasionally, I get the person who says, “I don’t really need this class, but a little review is never bad,” and they are the participant who desperately needs to learn how to communicate better.
Of course I want to get paid, and yes, money pays my mortgage and puts food on the table. And I love that, too. But the chance to help people have job opportunities that help them grow in their jobs, ahhhh, that’s the best feeling there is for this trainer.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer, trainer, and creativity coach.