Staying competitive in today’s job market isn’t always easy, and keeping your skills sharp and up to date is essential. But many professionals are required to do a certain amount of continuing professional development (CPD) each year, and gaining new skills can also play a role when negotiating a pay rise.
So it is now more important than ever to know how to ask your manager for the time or funds for training.
Properly researching the skills you want to improve and the options available to you is essential before you speak to your manager. The more details you have, the more likely they are to say yes.
Consider the skills you want to develop and why. Does your company already offer courses in this area? Is there a colleague who could advise you or act as an internal mentor? What have you already done to develop these skills? Make sure you have the answers to all these questions when you speak to your manager.
Know the benefits
Your manager will be mainly concerned with the outcome of the training. You’ll need to be able to demonstrate how gaining the requested skills will benefit your team, your department and your company as a whole. If there is a particular skills gap in your team, frame your request in terms of how the training will fill it.
You should also check whether the course in question will fulfil any of your CPD or other professional growth requirements.
Some employers refuse training because they worry that, once you gain new skills, you’ll be eligible for a different role elsewhere. Make sure you address this during your request. Show how you plan to use your new skills at your current company – you may even want to commit verbally to remaining there for a further year or two to quell any fears.
Choosing the right time to ask your boss about a course or event can make all the difference. If you know that the budget is tight or if your manager is in a bad mood, hold off. The best time to ask is after you’ve done something to impress them, perhaps even attempting to demonstrate the skill you’re looking to improve.
It’s always a good idea to schedule a specific meeting to discuss your proposal, as you would when negotiating a pay rise. You want to make sure you have your manager’s full attention and enough time to discuss everything fully.
Present the options
During your research, you should try to pick out a few different options for your training. This way, if the company won’t pay for a graduate degree course – for instance – you can suggest a conference or seminar as alternatives that will start you on the right track.
Be prepared to discuss the pros and cons of each option, and make sure you know the timings and costs for each as well.
Return on investment
When they are considering allocating time and funds for you to go on a development course, your manager will want to know what to expect afterwards. It is equally important to follow up after the training. Report back, either verbally or in writing, on what you learned and how you intend to apply the new skills in your current role.
It’s always good to continue to provide your boss with progress reports and to point out occasions when you use your new skills. This will make them more likely to agree to further training down the line.