Professional development is essential for every admin, regardless of experience. But when that training comes with a large price tag, it’s often out of reach.
The solution? Ask your employer to make an investment in you.
This investment can take many forms. It can be reimbursement for a webinar, registration for a professional development conference or even subsidising a course at your local community college.
Asking your employer to take a financial stake in your career can feel a bit uncomfortable. But when you approach them with a solid business case that explains why you’re requesting the training and what your employer and organisation can expect in return for their investment, it’s a lot less intimidating.
Here’s how to improve your chances of getting approval:
Do your research
Numbers, statistics and facts can be very persuasive, so do your homework! Find out as much as you can about the training you’re requesting. Arm yourself with dates, times and prices. If you can find success stories or other supporting data, pass that along too.
Will the training take place on company time? Be upfront about that and have a plan for how you’ll deal with your workload during your absence. Will you delegate to another employee? Work ahead on your projects? If you have a solid plan in place before you approach your employer, your chances can only increase.
Prepare your business case
If you want your employer to approve your request, you need to think the way they do. While they likely want you to get the professional development you desire, they also have to consider the needs of the entire company. In short, they need to know what’s in it for them, which is where your business case comes in.
The key elements of a good business case include:
Situational assessment and problem statement (I need this training because…)
Request description (I’m asking for…)
Solution description (This will help me by…)
Cost and benefit analysis (This course costs £X, but it will ultimately save the company £Y.)
Critical assumptions and risk assessment (This business case assumes I will…)
Conclusion and recommendations (I’m recommending you approve this training because…)
Depending on the training or professional development you’re requesting, you may not need all of this information. Requesting reimbursement for a webinar will require much less work than asking your employer to send you to a four-day conference. Still, the more information you can provide, the better your chances of gaining approval.
Presenting your information
Once you have your business case, you need to request a meeting with your employer. Depending on your relationship, this could be a quick “Do you have a second to chat?” or a more formal “Can we please schedule a time to discuss an important issue?”
Timing is everything. If your employer is rushed, stressed or distracted, wait! Ideally, you’ll want to have the discussion when your employer is in a positive frame of mind and the office is calm.
If possible, tie your request to the beginning of the fiscal year or budget cycle. Although this is not always possible, it increases your chances of success since the money likely hasn’t all been allotted.
Never make the request in front of colleagues! It can put your employer on the spot and cause a knee-jerk reaction rather than allowing them to think things over. Requests for professional development should always be confidential.
Respond to your training request approval
Congratulations! You’ve successfully made your case. Remember to thank your employer verbally and in writing. A nice thank-you card is in order!
When your training is complete, check back in with your employer. Share what you’ve learned and how it will improve your abilities. Offer to share your newfound knowledge with colleagues, if applicable. When your employer sees the results of your training and professional development, they’re more likely to approve your next request.
What if the answer is no?
There are plenty of reasons why your employer might deny your request, and the majority have nothing to do with you. There may not be budget money in this quarter/year. They may need you in the office. They might just not see the value the way you do.
If your request is denied, here’s what to do:
Respectfully listen to the reasoning if they choose to share it.
Ask again later or present your information in a different way.
Brainstorm ways to get around the stumbling blocks.
Ask what else might be possible.
Ask, “If not now, then when?”
Remember to remain professional. It’s disappointing to not get the answer you hoped for, but whining and/or sulking about it isn’t good for anyone. After all, the “no” you received may just be a “not right now”. You want them to feel good about saying yes to your request later!
Getting the training you need is so important – to you, your employer and your organisation! Don’t wait to ask for support! The worst thing that can happen is that your request will be declined, but chances are good that you’ll get the answer and training you need – especially if you make a good business case!
Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books: The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career; The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity; and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.