Are You Asking for Professional Development Training the Right Way?

By Robert Half on September 14, 2015 at 12:00pm

Asking for professional development training is a lot like asking for a raise. Many people prefer not to ask directly, hoping instead that the boss mentions it. But if you take your career seriously, you have to step up to the plate.

You can’t climb the career ladder without taking the first step. When it comes to professional development training, getting started means making sure the right people know you’re ready to do what it takes to get to the next level.

It’s not always easy, but you can’t let fear hold you back. Here are three helpful steps that will increase your chances of getting company-paid training targeted to your professional goals:

1. Let your boss know what’s in it for the company

Staff development is an expense just like any other. Your boss may have a budget, but spending the money still requires justification.

So make it easy for your manager. Outline exactly how your professional development training will benefit the company. Do you want to go to a conference? Give your boss information about speakers and other attendees. Conferences are great places for networking and learning about best practices, so you may return with a wealth of new information you can use on the job.

Do you want to take a training course or earn a certification? If so, where will you put your new skills to use when you return? It’s OK to say you want development for your own benefit — ambition is admirable, and a wise manager will support your progress — but there must be some kind of return on investment for the company so your boss can see the wisdom of spending money on you.

2. Be ready to compromise

The key to any negotiation is to be flexible while steering the dialogue in the direction you want. That’s why it’s important to be clear about what you hope to gain from your efforts. How do you hope to grow professionally?

If your boss responds with a different idea for professional development training, listen closely even if it’s not quite what you had hoped for. Will this compromise meet your needs? If so, give serious consideration to accepting the suggested alternative. If not, perhaps you need to make another attempt at communicating the advantages of your preferred development plan to your boss.

Just know when to ease up. If you remain inflexible and push too hard for the option you feel is best, you may frustrate your supervisor and lose your chance at training altogether.

3. Promise to share your new knowledge with the team

You can increase your chances of getting a “yes” if you offer to pass along key parts of what you’ve learned to your colleagues. It’s also a way to show your boss you’re a team player.

If you’re going to a conference, you can email a summary to the team. If you’re taking a training course, offer to run a small workshop at your next team meeting. If you’ve learned new best practices, share them with your coworkers. All of these are ways that help demonstrate the investment in your professional development training was money well spent.

Good managers know their staff members need to keep growing and learning, and they also know motivated employees will find a way to make that happen. Your boss may be waiting for enthusiastic employees to present professional development training ideas, so get clear about what you want and why you want it. After that, make sure your manager knows why supporting your plan is a good idea for the entire company.

Unemployed at the moment? Check out our list of professional development training options to consider when you’re in between jobs.

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