Everyone needs professional development. Everyone.
Professional development is the process of improving our skills and knowledge through education and training opportunities. It helps us gain new work experiences and become more valuable, possibly leading to a raise or promotion.
Professional development also helps us enjoy our jobs. Training Magazine says there is a connection between learning and employee engagement. The better we are at our jobs – and the more connected we are to the goals and results of an organization – the more productive we can be.
So how do we get our manager to approve attending (and paying for) professional development? Here are five questions to consider when putting your case together:
- What are the details? Do your homework about the activity – know when it will take place, where the event is located, length of time commitment, costs, etc. This is true whether it’s internal training or an external conference.
- How does the activity align with your goals? Be prepared to explain how learning this skill or attending this event will make you better at your job. It’s possible that you and your manager have already discussed developing this skill, but if you haven’t, expect your manager to ask.
- Can you share information you learned with the rest of the team? If so, what’s your plan for doing so? Have a couple of ideas for passing along information – maybe a company newsletter article or a short presentation during the next staff meeting.
- What types of support are needed from the company? Some professional development activities will require the organization to be flexible with schedules and others to allocate budget dollars. Some might require both. In addition to asking the company for resources and support, be prepared to share what you’re willing to contribute.
- Does this involve time away from work? If so, how will your work be handled? Think about how this impacts the team. Your co-workers are probably going to have to pick up the slack for you. You will have to return the favor at some point.
Here’s an example of how you can put these questions to use. Since you’ve been asked to lead a couple of committee meetings recently, you’d like some training with public speaking – a skill everyone should develop. So here’s a suggested pitch to your boss:
Toastmasters International is a non-profit educational organization focused on teaching people public speaking skills. They’ve been around since 1905 and have meetings all over the world. A typical meeting lasts 1-2 hours.
Toastmasters allows individuals to attend as a guest to learn about the meeting. But to participate, there’s a one-time new membership fee ($20) and regular dues ($36 every six months.)
I’d like to find a meeting and attend for six months, but I would like some flexibility with my schedule and support from the department to cover the cost. I can report to the team about the meetings and, if the team is interested, maybe we can help create a “company” chapter.
Putting together your pitch doesn’t need to be long. The key is to answer all the questions so that a good decision can be reached.
Keep in mind these same five questions can be used in our personal development for activities that will help us be more effective at home.
It’s all connected. The better we are at our jobs, the more engaged we are and the less stress we will bring home with us. Regularly investing in our professional development means we’re taking steps to a better self – at work and at home.