It is never an easy conversation to have with your boss when you know that budgets are tight, everyone is feeling the pinch, there is pressure from the top downwards, and you feel that you and your colleagues just need a little help or training. In a perfect world, where the distractions are not there, and common sense plays a little more part in the perspective it would be obvious that better-trained staff deliver a better result – but that is just logic and common sense – why would anyone want to listen to that argument?
When presenting any idea to someone else, your best chance of successfully persuading them is to be able to answer this question: What’s in it for me?
You see, everyone (no matter what their job role, title or position) is still just a person. Our innate human instinct is to make judgements based on self-interest. Without wanting to sound too cynical, even the most altruistic and philanthropic gesture is still only made on the basis that ‘giving’ makes that person happy. So, if you can position your request with the benefit to them (on a business and a personal level) then you massively increase the chances of getting the result that you want.
So, to ask your boss for more training, first identify what they are looking for from you. If it is the case, as described in my opening sentence, that the business is under pressure to perform more, then you need to be able to prove that the training will give the business a swift return on investment. If, however, the environment is more plain sailing at the moment; perhaps you could pitch the idea that being able to handle your current workload better might ease the burden on your boss and make them look better to theirs. The key is to find the hook and bait it correctly – with the result, not the training itself.
As a ‘boss’ myself, I love it when my team demonstrate that they think they can do better: or when they show a passion for wanting to improve.
Let’s say for example they come and ask me for new laptops. All I am left with is a simple cost decision to make, and the answer is almost certainly going to be ‘no’. But if the approach were positioned along the lines of suggesting how using tablets to demonstrate when we visit customers would help conversion, they might get my interest. If they went on to show me how many hours they’d wasted on the phone to IT last month with computer crashes and sent me a link for an offer on laptop/tablet dual-purpose machines, I would certainly consider the potential.
I believe that any manager who is interested in doing a great job will be thrilled if the people they manage come knocking on the door with a well thought through plan to improve their performance. I would even go as far as to say that this sort of behaviour would be irresistible to a good manager.
As an IT training business, we are only really interested in doing work where we add value and make our client’s lives easier, time more productive, and businesses more profitable. That is why we exist. So, when you think about the sort of training you and your colleagues might need, first have a think about what will add the most value. And if you need any help working out a solution – get in touch.