How To Get Your Boss To Pay For Your Executive Education
It’s hard enough to ask your bosses for a raise. Now, imagine hitting them up for executive education. You can probably guess what they’re thinking. “Can’t you just use our in-house training program (or a MOOC, for that matter)?” “Isn’t this going to take time away from work?” And here’s the biggie: “How do we know that you’re not going to leave here and stick us with the bill?”
In a recent interview with The Economist, Bill Scheurer, Executive Director of the International University Consortium for Executive Education (UNICON), shared several strategies for motivating your bosses to pick up the tab. And they don’t require guilt or ultimatums, either.
Whether you’re seeking an executive MBA or in-house coursework from a top MBA program, the first step is explaining why you (and even your peers) need it. In other words, what gaps does this training address? “Prove that you’ve evaluated your skills, considered past performance evaluations, and identified a specific gap you’d like to fill,” Scheurer counsels. At the same time, be prepared to broach the touchy topic of how the training will benefit you. For example, if your boss is secure, outline how it will prepare you to handle additional responsibilities or even a promotion.
More than that, tie in how your education will fatten the bottom line. “Rather than just plugging a gap in your personal toolbox,” Scheurer tells The Economist, “show you want to help your company build a new capability platform that supports its institutional strategy.” At the same time, offer to train your peers, which turns the educational investment into a force multiplier.
Finally, put yourself in your boss’ shoes. Chances are, he or she will need to sell the idea up the chain. To gain buy-in, you’ll need to address all of the angles. Obviously, tackling cost and time away from work is a no-brainer, Scheurer notes. Still, you should also explain why this format is better than, say, online learning. In addition, you should peg specific educational outcomes to job or company performance. Aside from these core strategies, you may want to weave the following themes into your pitch as well:
- Why can’t this wait another year?
- Is this the first of many requests to come?
- Why you – and not someone else?
- How will you minimize any disruption to the firm?
- How much of this training is tax-deductible?
Sure, you can argue that this degree or training will help you apply best practices or build a network that you can draw upon during crisis. You can even trot out buzzwords like strategic thinking and leadership. In the end, your employer wants to know that you’ve thought it through.
What’s more, be sure to answer the first question that will pop into their heads: “Are you still committed to your role and this company?” In other words, you need to sell yourself – your loyalty, value, and potential – before you sell the program. Regardless of renown, the program is only as good as the student.
Source: The Economist