For many people, having conversations about money is awwwwkward……and asking for money is …..well, even worse. If you are one of the lucky ones that finds these types of conversations easy come stand near us so we can absorb some of your confidence and wisdom. No really, we want some of your mojo.
For the rest of us, a little help would be….well….helpful.
At Failure Lab, we believe that professional & personal development should be top priorities for every person & every organization, but let’s start with a little bit of level setting. The amount of organizational/employer support that is available to each person will vary dramatically based on the organizational culture, the current strategic initiatives, the leadership, the industry, etc.
Whatever your specific situation, here are a few considerations to mull over as you contemplate your best strategy for getting your employer to invest in your professional development.
And because we reeeaallyyy want to set you up for success…keep reading along for a sample of what you can send to your supervisor for your professional training request!
Willingness: Does your employer/supervisor believe in the value of professional development? Do they believe that it is important? Do they believe that it is impactful? What is the overarching culture around learning? How steep is the hill that you are about to climb?
Prioritization: If your employer does believe in the value of PD, how do they prioritize it? Is it a “Yes, that sounds fantastic, as long as you do it on your own time” kinda thing or a “PD is a strategic priority for the long term growth of our organization and the people in it. We fully support you taking time within your workday.” sorta thing?
Budget: In the end, even with enthusiastic support, the money has to come from somewhere. Is there an existing budget? Who is in charge of that budget? Are their organizational strategic priorities tied to that budget? If there is no specifically allocated budget, do you have enough budgetary context to offer some suggestions on creative budgetary shuffling? Could you potentially impact the PD budgets of the future by having an open and candid conversation now?
Process: This one is closely tied to budgets, but what are the processes in your organization around requests of all sorts (both formal and informal)? Is there an existing PD request process? Is your direct supervisor the ultimate decision maker? Do you need to convince your boss, who will need to convince his boss, who will need to convince her boss? How do you advocate for yourself through the systems and infrastructures that exist in your organization and make sure that your request gets heard (in the way that you intended) by whomever is the decision maker?
The good news is that more and more companies are prioritizing professional developmental. Research, both formal and anecdotal, continues to validate the correlation of human-centered, employee-growth-focused company culture to increased employee performance & satisfaction, decreased attrition, AND increased bottom lines. For more info on this, see our article: Why Professional Development is Important & How to Make a Plan.
TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH DECISION MAKERS
Regardless of your individual situation, here is what YOU can do to advocate for yourself and increase your chances of getting employer buy-in, both literally and figuratively.
Be Professional: We highly recommend sending a “formal request” as an email or a memo (see sample request below), followed by a meeting to discuss the opportunity. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and to directly ask for approval.
Consider Your Company & Its Goals: Can you relate your professional development ask to organization-wide or departmental strategic objectives/themes/initiatives? For instance, if your organization has recently made a public and organization-wide commitment to diversity & inclusion, a professional development ask that aligns with that commitment would be appropriate & appealing to the powers that be.
Explore Internal Resources: How does this specific professional development opportunity tie into other professional development experiences that you have had and/or that the organization has provided? What types of internal resources are available and do they align with the program/opportunity that you are asking them to fund? If those resources exist, it will be helpful if you can proactively address them and why the outside experience that you are presenting for approval is additive and/or different.
Show the Return on Investment (ROI): When a company invests in an employee’s development, they want to know what the benefit to the organization will be. Full stop.
Make it Easy: Be clear & specific in your ask. Provide all the information that your decision maker will need to….make a decision: program details, cost, enrollment deadlines, promo codes/early bird specials, professional development budget/policy, etc.
Be Open: Be open to the conversation and open to the reality that it might not go exactly how you want it to go. Your supervisor might say “No.” They might say “Maybe.” They might say, “Not right now.” Your professional development is an ongoing journey, not a one-and-done proposition. A “no” right now is not a “no” forever. Having open candid conversations with your leadership can be positive movement forward, even if the answer is “no.” The experience will help you frame future requests and allow you to inquire as to what it might take to get a “yes” the next time around.
Express Gratitude: Regardless of the outcome, express gratitude. At Failure Lab we believe that gratitude is a mindset and a decision that is always important, for both the giver and the receiver. Gratitude predisposes our minds to proactive forward movement and helps to facilitate positive & respectful communication. Gratitude lays the foundation for future conversations and future growth.
SAMPLE TRAINING REQUEST LETTER
Okay, you have thought about it, you have done research, you have strategized. Now it is time to initiate the ASK. As mentioned above, we recommend drafting a formal request. Templates and samples are helpful, so here you go!
Subject: Leadership Development Training Request
Dear Ms. Supervisor,
In our last town hall meeting, the leadership team expressed their commitment to providing internal leadership advancement opportunities for *INSERT COMPANY NAME* team members. I was excited and encouraged to hear this commitment straight from the top. As you know from our previous check-ins, it is my desire to work towards a more senior leadership position here at *INSERT COMPANY NAME*.
*INSERT COMPANY NAME*has provided several lunch & learns on leadership development, and while I have found these learning sessions helpful, I would like to commit more fully to my leadership development journey.
I have been researching leadership training opportunities that would be both impactful to my learning journey and flexible enough to incorporate into my schedule without any negative impact on my current workload.
I would like to formally submit a request for training for the Failure Lab Manage Better program that begins on . This is a 6-week virtual program (90-minutes of synchronous time/week) that focuses on improving leadership effectiveness through a better understanding of how people’s perceptions of failure & success impacts how they view and engage with their work & teammates. It is my understanding that this is a highly interactive learning experience that focuses on skill building & participant engagement. The cost for this program is $1,500, and if I sign up before , I can take advantage of the Early Bird discount, which would discount the tuition by $250.
Here is a LINK to a description of the training & curriculum Failure Lab offers a variety of professional development & leadership training programs, which you can view HERE.
To be clear, I am fully committed to maintaining high levels of performance in my current position as I continue to grow my skillsets and increase my value to this organization. One of the reasons that I selected this program is because the pacing and timing of the sessions will not impact my current workload and schedule. It is my hope to grow myself into a future leadership opportunities at *INSERT COMPANY NAME*.
While I understand that there is a dedicated professional development budget, I am not aware of how these types of requests are prioritized and handled. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this training request and any other professional development opportunities that you would recommend.
I appreciate your consideration of my request for training and the mentorship you have provided to myself and the team during my time here. I would like to schedule a follow-up meeting early next week to review my request and answer any questions you may have.
Thank you for your consideration,
Motivated Team Member
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION
Interested in learning more about Failure Lab training opportunities? We would love to talk to you about it. Whether you are looking for something for yourself as an individual growth-minded human or you are looking to bring compelling & impactful professional development programs into your organization… WE’VE GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU! Send us a message & we will respond ASAP