It’s a common complaint: My boss won’t approve my training or professional development requests. But it may not be your boss’s fault. It may be the way you’re asking or failing to ask that gets to the heart of the issue. Let me explain.
A lot of times when we ask for our employer’s support for training or professional development requests, we walk up and ask for their support without providing enough details or a solid business case for why they should consider our request; and many times, their responses are disappointing to us as a result. They need compelling evidence to support the budgetary allocation – especially when budgets are tight. It’s like asking someone for a big wad of money without giving them any solid reasons or support for why you need it, how you plan to spend it, and what they can expect to gain in return. So what can you do to improve your chances of getting your employer to support and approve your training and professional development requests?
Step 1: Do Your Research
Facts are persuasive. Do your homework before you make your request so you know exactly what the training you want will include and what other options may be available in various price ranges, formats (online or teleclass vs. in person), and locations. Have facts and statistics available to support your request. These websites are a great place to find valuable, supporting information, and statistics to justify a training investment:
Step 2: Prepare Your Business Case
Think like a business owner or company executive. Build a business case for your training proposal request. Learning what goes into a solid business case is something you’ll be able to use throughout your career as you support teams and executives.
The key elements of a good business case include:
- Situational assessment and problem statement
- Request description
- Solution description
- Cost and benefit analysis
- Implementation timeline
- Critical assumptions and risk assessment
- Conclusions and recommendations
When you create your proposal based on relevant information for all of these key areas, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for questions or additional information your executive may request from you. You may download a sample training business case at www.TheInnovativeAdmin.com so you can see what it might look like. It may not always be necessary to submit this much information, but preparing your request by going through this process will ensure you have put the appropriate thought and research into your request BEFORE you make it.
Step 3: Presenting Your Information
Certain times are better than others for presenting your request. Avoid rushed, high stress, busy times. Look for opportunities when your executive is in a positive frame of mind and office activities aren’t as hectic.
If you know your executive takes in information best when it comes in short, succinct, bulleted lists, then present your business case that way, too. If you know your executive is more relational and likes to know the history and support behind something, then adapt your presentation style to match. Some executives prefer verbal exchanges, some want to see it on paper. I recommend a combination of both. I often suggest planting the seed verbally that you are going to be presenting a training proposal, then water that seed by following up with your written documentation. Your request may require some nurturing, but the effort is worth it when your request is approved.
NEVER make your request in front of a group of your colleagues or co-workers. Your executive may be willing to approve your request because you’re a dedicated, hard worker, but that may not be the case for everyone you work with. So don’t assume it will be approved for all if it’s approved for one.
Always try to present your requests at the beginning of a budget year if you can. Your chances of gaining approval are much better when the funds aren’t yet spent or fully allocated. Better yet, submit your request while they are working on budget planning for the year so your request can be built into the budget from the beginning.
If you’re smart, you’ll also put some thought into how you’ll prepare someone else who may need to cover for your absence. Do you have documented procedures for your position? If not, then get started putting your administrative procedures manual together today so you can be out of the office for training and the office is still able to run smoothly in your absence. Visit www.AllThingsAdmin.com for free templates to help you get started.
Step 4: Show Return on Investment (ROI)
When you can demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) your company will receive as a result of investing in your training and professional development, the chances of receiving a request approval will also increase. In order to do this, you need to create pre-training objectives you want to achieve. Document new ideas, key takeaways, new relationships you want to build, and the next steps you want to pull from the training.
Document the objective outcomes after the training is completed and share this information with your executive. The IAAP website has a fantastic Return On Investment Planner which you can typically find on their events pages at www.iaap-hq.org.
Step 5: Responding to your training request APPROVAL!
When your request is approved, THANK your executive both verbally and in writing. Send them an email, write them a thank you card, show your appreciation for their support.
Thank them with continued great performance also! Regularly point out the little things you learned that you just used or implemented from the training and how the company or your executive benefitted – continually reinforce the ROI.
What to Do When You Don’t Get the Response You Wanted
- Respectfully listen to the reasons for the “No.”
- Ask again in a different way or at a different time.
- Ask how you CAN help make it possible (brainstorm possibilities).
- Ask what is possible if this is not.
- Ask when it may be possible, if not now.
- Ask what you can do to improve the way you’re asking.
- Don’t give up! It may be “No – not right now,” and NOT a “No – never.”
“You don’t get what you don’t ask for.”
~ Julie Perrine
“What you don’t ask for stays the same.”
As the technology landscape and the administrative profession continue to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s more important than ever for administrative professionals to stay current in their own professional development. Ultimately, your professional development is YOUR responsibility, not your employer’s. But it doesn’t hurt to seek their support when they are also a direct beneficiary of the skills and abilities you bring to the position every day. When you assemble a complete, well-researched, solid business case to support your training request, I’m certain you’ll find more favorable responses to future training requests.
This article first appeared in Executive Secretary Magazine, a global training publication and must read for any administrative professional. You can get a 30% discount when you subscribe through us. Visit the website at www.executivesecretary.com to find out more or to get your 30% discount email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them we sent you.