In previous articles, I’ve touched on the importance of education. An educated workforce is a huge asset. We’ve also talked about what you know and what you don’t know you don’t know – a Rumsfeldian conundrum if there ever was one.
Today, I want to focus on how to go about asking your boss for time in order to learn new things you feel will elevate your performance. Improving your skill-set and why exposing yourself to new ideas will naturally make you more engaged in your work.
The reality is that with a full time job, finding the time and resources to advance your professional and personal development is an obvious hurdle. While many companies encourage and even fund classes, most do not. So how do you make your case to your boss that the investment in time and money will have substantial ROI at the end of the day?
What exactly is your plan? If you don’t lay out exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish, along with the benefits that will accrue to the company, you won’t be able to make your case. Set aside some time each day, perhaps before you go to bed when things quiet down, and write down your thoughts, explore ideas and do the research necessary to develop a thoroughly vetted game plan. The more time you put in, the more ideas will surface. The more ideas you generate, the more specific and focused your entire plan will become.
One sentence vision statement. Just like any selling proposition, if you can’t make your case with one sentence, nobody is going to stay tuned in to listen to a rambling diatribe. Make your vision statement about how improving yourself through education is going to benefit the company. Keep it short, keep it sweet. Just the facts, maam.
Align your goals with the company’s goals. You probably came to the realization that you need further education because of the direction your company is moving in – regardless of whether it’s a changing marketplace or technology shift. So in order to get senior management buy in, you need to connect the benefits you’ll be getting with the benefits the company will also be enjoying.
Be up front. When you believe you have your house in order and have researched costs, time factors, and how the mechanics will work while you take time away from your full time responsibilities, let leadership know that you want to present your case for continued education and would like to schedule a meeting. Don’t try to spring anything on anybody. Do your homework, research your company HR policies and make sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted. Then ask for the meeting so leadership is prepared to listen and evaluate.
At the end of the day, it’s about sharing your vision and goals. Be clear about what you’re asking for — is it for time off, compensation (expenses), or some combination of the two? What do you offer in return? When the conversation is over, follow up with a thank you note. By spending time doing your due diligence, you stand a much better chance of success – so prepare your case, boil it down to a one-sentence vision statement, align your goals with the company goals, and make a professional presentation to your leadership team.