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Communicating influence: positioning the trainer as an organizational leader

Robin Smith Mathis (School of Communication and Media, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 28 October 2020

Issue publication date: 13 November 2020




This study aims to examine participants’ perspectives in organization-sponsored training and provides support for further research positioning the trainer as an organizational leader.


The interactions described in the trainees’ experiences were examined through a social constructivist lens. Interviews were conducted to collect data. Narratives were analyzed to reach interpretation.


Interview results identified four themes, namely, relevance and applicability of training received, the formation of attitudes and preferences among the trainee participants, immediacy in the use of the training received and relational and organizational influence that furthers leader-member exchange in the workplace.

Research limitations/implications

This study examined participants’ perspectives in workplace training and provides support for further research: examining communication’s role in workplace learning; exploring the training process; and positioning the trainer as an organizational leader.

Practical implications

This study provides empirical data to support changes in instructional communication models and exploring the process of training. Trainers’ relational building with trainees could impact many outcomes in their training efforts that are detailed in this study.


This study uses a collection of methods to address the trainees’ experience in formal workplace learning. It demonstrates the power of trainers to influence what the trainees think of training content, format and relational learning.



The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and Dr. Laura Beth Daws for their feedback that was valuable in the revision process. Finally, the author is grateful for her dissertation committee members’ support, and the study participants.


Mathis, R.S. (2020), "Communicating influence: positioning the trainer as an organizational leader", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 32 No. 8, pp. 549-568.



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