The Art of the Ask: Approaching Your Boss for Executive Education

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Workplaces that support executive education have higher levels of employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Whether the goal is to expand skills relevant to a current role or to move up to a position with more responsibilities, executive education leads to professional growth and competency. But tuition fees and time off work can amount to a substantial investment for organizations and business owners. Here are tips for those thinking of making a request for sponsorship at their workplace.

Knowing the Organization’s Policy

Some organizations have generous policies with regards to professional development. Others will grant it only in special circumstances. Most organizations think about succession and are willing to support good candidates within the ranks for promotion. Sometimes an employee will be asked for a contractual agreement to stay for a certain period of time after completing a program.

Using one’s Performance Record

An employee’s good track record of performance, professionalism and high engagement is the best argument in their favour. If their work and accomplishments have contributed to organizational goals, employers know that encouragement and opportunity for that individual will help make the company better.

Considering Timing – Why Now?

Organizational restructuring, changes in technology, and new departmental programs can present unexpected challenges and require higher levels of expertise. If a company in a financial crunch has laid off workers, that is all the more reason for it to consider investing in those who are left who now shoulder more responsibility. Even the best employees may find gaps in their talent at some point and should not be afraid to admit when they need help.

Knowing the Details

Specific details about the curriculum of the course as well as general overall benefits will help to build a case for sponsorship. It is useful to show how a particular challenge in the workplace is addressed by the course topics. The reputation of the school, the experience of the instructors, and testimonials from former participants can all weigh favourably for the request.

Asking the Right Person

An employee should know who the decision maker is in this circumstance and schedule a time to speak to them directly. That does not mean they ignore others in the process. When a direct supervisor vouches for a worker to higher ups it can make a big difference.

Investigating Financing Programs

There are Job grant programs that provide partial financing to some organizations for employee education. Get details about one Ontario program here.

Knowing the Requirements and the ROI

An executive education program is not a vacation or a perk. The employee is doing extra work for the company’s benefit as well as their own, and their employer will expect to see tangible results. It is not a passive learning experience – participation in discussions and in-class presentations as well as reading preparatory course material is expected. Networking and making corporate connections will bring additional opportunities and perspectives and can also be a part of the executive education experience.

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