ATD Blog

Ensure Your Seat at the Table

Monday, August 11, 2014

A tough economy, political strife, and shrinking budgets have had an unfortunate impact on the broad talent development profession.

This is not an epiphany. The phrase, “We are sorry, but we just can’t make that type of investment in employees this year,” is sadly familiar. Employee development dollars are often seen as perks and cut from already dwindling allocations.

Whether your role in the organization is in training, HR, recruiting, or talent management, you most likely are forced to justify your programs on a continual basis.

Indeed, my shoulder has soaked up many streams of tears from colleagues who share their angst for not having a stable seat at the proverbial C-Level table. The comment that causes the largest upset is, “We didn’t feel the need to bring you into the conversation as it was a business decision. It had nothing to do with people.” “Not true,” I say to the uninformed executive.

But “Tisk, Tisk” I say to talent professionals who miss any opportunity to ensure that their “people” programs are linked to business.


So, how can you ensure you deserve that notorious “seat at the table”? Simple: prove that your programs have an impact on business decisions—and the bottom line.

For example, you must explain to the other “seats” that the perfect candidate for the new product line manager is a recent graduate of your organization’s high-potential program. Describe how using an internal resource—rather than going outside the firm—will actually save the organization $50,000 on recruiting agency fees, $10,000 on relocation costs, and increase new product revenue faster because the internal candidate already has the company history, experience, and trust to achieve success quicker than someone new to the organization.


That is just one small example of the many ways that you can demonstrate your ability to be a true business partner, to explain how people link to business strategy, and to ensure your presence at the table isn’t just deserved but desired.

To learn more ways you can secure your seat at the table, join us for the Integrated Talent Management Certificate in San Francisco on September 18-19 or Alexandria, Virginia on November 17-18. 

About the Author

As an organizational development, leadership, human capital and project management expert with 20 years of experience in high end consulting, Jennifer loves to work with organizations that want more, are willing to take risks and even step on the ledge a bit in order to push change and innovation that align strategy with  performance to produce positive business results.  As CEO of Emergent Performance Solutions, she brings her entrepreneurial spirit balanced with years of practical experience; in order to provide opportunities that are fun, exciting and highly productive.  She coaches, teaches and consults with government and industry leaders to create high performance environments that directly impact the mission of the change culture and the bottom line.  She shares in the thought leadership community through speaking at conferences, publishing works and engaging the community.  She has a notable reputation for innovation, creativity and reliability as well as her dynamic ability to fully engage her audiences through competence and humor.

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