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How to sell professional development to your boss

Monday, February 12, 2018 - 10:00
How to sell professional development to your boss

Getting ahead in your career takes equal measures of patience, persistence, and planning. Whether you’re after a payrise, a promotion or an opportunity to simply get your foot in the door of a new industry, it’s important to have a vision of where you’re going, and how you’ll get there. In today’s hypercompetitive job market, you need to find any edge you can, which is why formal professional development programs are so incredibly valuable.

While it’s tempting to think you might be better off elsewhere sometimes, viewing your current position or employer this way can be a bit short sighted. Besides a salary, the opportunity to gain experience and expand your network, your current role could be providing you with valuable professional development opportunities if you know where to look, and how to make the case to your boss.

Once you’ve found the course or program that you feel will make you a star performer, here’s our advice for convincing your boss to let you sign up.

1. Link the program to your position description

Don’t be vague about how you draw these links. Use concrete examples of how a training program relates to your position. For instance, if your position description requires you to “manage projects to agreed standards and budgets,” a course or a qualification in project management will make perfect sense. If it isn’t in your position description, use an example of a task you’re working on, or you’ve completed, and explain how some extra training could improve your results.

2. Provide details and options

Your boss will want to be sure this isn’t just an off the cuff decision. The best way to show them you’re serious is to provide them with as many relevant details as you can. This includes prices, dates, providers and potential accreditations for each course. Don’t just provide one option, as they’ll want to see the rationale and benefits of different durations and prices of courses. At the same time, try not to bombard them with ridiculously long emails – stick to the key information to begin with.

3. Have a general discussion about your role

Sometimes, your manager will prefer to have a discussion with you before you go off and make all the decisions for them. This is just human nature, as people will always warm to an idea if they feel involved. There’s nothing wrong with letting your boss know that you want to learn new skills and knowledge though. Every good manager knows that the only thing worse than training your staff and them leaving, is not training them and having them stay!

4. Explain the team benefits

The new knowledge and skills you learn on a course don’t necessarily have to be yours, and yours alone. Tell your boss that you’ll be happy to train other members of the team if the course is also relevant to their role. You could offer to make a presentation on what you’ve learnt, or at least share your course notes with the team when you’re back in the office. Most importantly, explain how your new knowledge and skills will contribute to your team’s results, not just your own.

5. Don’t get discouraged

As we pointed out above, patience, persistence, and planning are the key to getting ahead in your career. Your boss might say no today, because of budget and/or time constraints. That doesn’t mean they’ll say no if you bring it up at a later date. Sometimes, we just need to be patient and wait for the right time. Set a date in your calendar, particularly at the beginning of a new calendar or financial year, and ask your boss again. They’ll be impressed with your commitment to learning new knowledge and skills, and will be much more likely to give you the green light!

We’ve developed a market-leading suite of more than 80 short courses that we offer year-round, right across Australia. With a broad range of subject areas including; Leadership & Management, Project Management, Human Resources, Sales & Marketing and Professional Development, you can even consider an MBA from the AIM Business School. We’ve got you covered for the skills and knowledge you need to drive career and business success.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you make the case to your boss for gaining new skills and knowledge.