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How to convince your boss to do an executive education program

You know that learning is crucial to continued career progress. You realize that you could use some upskilling in certain areas. You’ve found a course that you’re confident will help you do your job better, as well as make you feel positive about your personal and professional growth.

Now, how to convince your boss to support you, in terms of financing the program or giving you the time you need to do it?

8 tips for how to persuade your boss that you need to do a professional development course

These are the eight steps you need to follow in order to succeed. In addition, we’ve created this personalizable letter template with which you can craft your email or letter to send your message to your manager or HR representative. Download it for free and take the first step toward obtaining the career training you need.

1. Find out exactly what your company’s policy on professional development is.

Every company’s is different. In order to begin the process with reasonable expectations, find out how much time you’re allotted, whether your company funds it and what steps you have to take to request it. Very early on, you might want to mention to your boss what you’re thinking, which gives them a heads-up and also creates the space for them to make suggestions if they want.

2. Think about how the executive education program or course benefits you.

It’s not enough to say that you’re interested in a topic. Instead, you need to have clear exactly what the benefits will be for you personally and professionally. A focused executive education course can give you the specific skills or knowledge you need to perform better. Longer-format programs can be transformational experiences that give you a new perspective on your company and industry.

3. Now think about benefits for your boss and your company.

At the end of the day, an employer will be most eager to support you if there’s a decisive case for benefits to the company. Think about how your learning fits into the larger goals and needs of your company, and prepare an argument around the return on investment. You might also want to have thought about three benefits for your boss.

An employer will be most eager to support you if there’s a decisive case for benefits to the company.

4. Do your homework on what you’re asking for.

Find a specific course, understand what time and money commitment it entails, and learn about the institution offering it. Also, find out about possible grants or scholarships available – many universities have extensive financial aid programs, and government agencies can also be a source for funding.

Once you have narrowed your choice, try to draw on an internal network of alumni. If there are other people who have done programs at the same institution, reach out to them and bring them onto your side.

5. Prepare for the conversation.

Now spend a few minutes thinking about the convincing arguments you’ll make to your boss and how you’ll articulate them. It’s unlikely to go exactly as planned, but it’s worth rehearsing. Approach it like you would any business negotiation, which involves preparation, considering the other side, putting forth proposals, etc. Prof. Kandarp Mehta always recommends seeking advice rather than claiming in negotiations. That could mean instead of saying, “I want to do this program,” asking first, “What kind of program do you think would benefit me?”.

6. Be prepared to compromise.

Maybe your boss won’t be on board to fund 100% of your course and give you 100% of the days off. But it may well still be worth it if they are willing to pay a portion of it, or grant you some time. Establish what your priorities are – time off? economic support? — and what you’re willing to give up.

In addition, everything doesn’t have to be closed before the start of the program. Particularly if you’re doing a longer-term program, you can continue to negotiate even after the program has started.

7. Spread your new knowledge around.

Think about the ways you can share what you’ve learned with your colleagues. You’ll be in a much better position to negotiate if by paying for one program, many people benefit.

8. Now request a meeting with your boss.

Since professional development goes hand in hand with broader career goals, it’s probably best to discuss your request in person or in a video call. That will also give you the opportunity to respond to any doubts or questions your boss may have. Take into account when your boss is most receptive to this kind of conversation – don’t ask for it at a time when you know they’re facing deadlines or are otherwise stressed

Think about how your learning fits into the larger goals and needs of your company.

At IESE we have programs and courses for every level of commitment and in a wide variety of formats. Our focused programs hone in on a specific skill or topic, from artificial intelligence to communications. Our longer-format programs such as the Advanced Management Program and Program for Management Development offer you a holistic approach.

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