I love what I do and a lot of that stems from the fact my role is continually developing and I am always learning new things, be it budget & cash flow or legal issues… the ins and outs of immigration and visas for example.
I quickly recognised, and told Carl & Sam, that in order to ensure I perform as well as I can at work, I needed to widen my skillset and go back to school. So I enrolled in an online course with Open Colleges and I’m now studying towards a Diploma in HR and Business Administration. nVision Talent supported me 100% in this decision from the get go and paid for the entire course. Instantly I felt valued and appreciated and really glad I broached the subject.
If I hadn’t mentioned this then they might not have thought about offering this as a benefit. Even if your need for developing new skills seems obvious to you, your boss might not realise the importance of education in the workplace.
So I’ve come up with some ideas to convince them otherwise!
It’s my belief that employees who feel optimistic about their chance for career development also feel more loyal to their employer and off the back of that comes a higher level of engagement. In other words, investment in your education benefits your company just as much as it helps you. In exchange for becoming prepared for future advancement within the firm, your employer gets a well-trained employee with an expanding skill set, an ability to produce more, and a desire to stay longer with the company. Win, win, and win.
HOW TO ASK FOR IT
Suppose your company regularly interacts with new clients, but you have trouble communicating with them because you don’t know the jargon. You’ll get fed up pretty quickly unless your boss invests in training won’t you? Similarly, suppose you work in the IT department but don’t have the skills needed to support your workload. That’s frustrating.
Finally, imagine you’ve spent too much time in your current role and feel like you’re going to have to start looking for a new job if you’re not given the opportunity to develop new skills to qualify for promotion. In any case, you have identified a weakness that directly affects both you and your employer, so you must bring it to the attention of your boss.
So you’ve arranged a catch up with your manager and the meeting room is booked… now what? Well, start by asking your boss to support your training and development by clearly explaining the skill gap you now experience. For example, explain the difficulty of interacting with new customers or managing technology you don’t fully understand.
Explain your frustrations and emphasise you could advance within the company if you had the proper knowledge and training. Your boss will become more receptive to contributing to your education when you make a convincing argument. You’re also showing them you’re committed to working with them long term.
Describe the long-term benefits for the company
Offer a longer-term view of how the company will suffer by having employees who are ill equipped to meet daily challenges. Highlight how training and development will pay off by operational efficiency.
Your boss must understand you can pass on the knowledge you gain from training with your colleagues. As a result, additional staff members will have enhanced skills, which in turn will make the company more efficient.
Don’t present problems, present solutions
“Don’t come to with a problem, come to me with a solution” – that right there is pretty much the rule I live by in my role every day. It’s my job to offer solutions to Carl and Sam and essentially improve how nVision operates on a day-to-day basis. If I think we could benefit by investing in something which is going to cost money, I go to them, explain the issue I have identified, the solution I’ve come up with and then tell them how much it’s going to cost. I justify it basically. You need to do the same when you want your boss to invest in you.
When telling your boss what something is going to cost, also point out it's worth - consider what it may also save - sometimes short or longer term. If you view your best asset, your people, as an investment then how much do you save if you keep and grow your talent rather than having to continually replace staff who leave because they are not valued or enabled?
Have a clear idea about what training or development you want to embark on, the reasons why it’ll be beneficial and how much it costs. It needs to be tangible.
Do your homework
Avoid relying on generalities to make your argument for education. Research every suggestion you make, so you can readily inform your boss. If you feel your situation requires an online college course for example, explain how that class would contribute to your daily routine without sacrificing productivity.
Supply your boss with stats that show the correlation between employee training and development. For example, a study has shown that 40% of all workers consider job-related training essential to their satisfaction.
When you highlight the connection between education and business, the data will make the case for you.
When you’re armed with all this information and are really passionate about something, it can be easy to go in all guns blazing and you might come across as a bit demanding. Calm your farm and instead recognise your proposal is new to your boss and they might need some time to process all the information. Confidence without cockiness as well as a positive attitude will give your case a best chance for success.
I genuinely think further education and training in the workplace is a neglected area and a lot of managers (mine excluded thankfully) are too short sighted. What's the cost of a training course versus repeated recruitment drives to bring new staff on board to replace those that have moved on?
From a personal perspective, whilst it’s not easy juggling a full time job, being Mum to a very active toddler and studying, I am already seeing the benefit of my course in the workplace and I’ve only submitted one module! I know once completed I will be able to transfer the knowledge I’ve gained from my Diploma and be an even more valuable asset to nVision Talent. I will also feel proud that I managed to pick the books back up after so many years!