Requesting Employer Sponsorship for Professional Development
By Laura Macro.
At this new century unfolds, there is a business imperative for continuous learning supported by both employers, and employees. As ‘baby boomers’ retire from the workforce; as the pace of change accelerates through globalization, technology advancements, and restructuring; as the workplace becomes more complex and timelines more rushed, there is an urgent need for the development of future leaders and effective contributors.
Therefore, asking an employer for sponsorship of professional development is a win/win request
Tips on asking employer to sponsor professional development and/or education:
1. Know your value. You know the contribution you are making within the organization. You know your role well, and you know from performance reviews or feedback how your contribution is perceived. You know whether your request is for future development or skill building of a remedial nature. Know your future plans, and link your request to increasing your value in future within the organization. Be clear about the benefits that will accrue from this professional development.
2. Understand your employer’s motivators for supporting continuous learning and having a skilled workforce. What problem is your employer trying to solve? What is the essential task and how does your work contribute to this focus? What added value will you bring to this focus through professional development? What are the business priorities that will have your employer supporting your ongoing learning?
3. Advocate for yourself. Believe in your right and responsibility to ask for formal learning opportunities. You are in charge of your career, whether you are in the early stages or whether you are looking at how you might transition out to the next phase of your career. You are in integrity if you know how your enhanced contribution will benefit your employer now, even if you are ultimately moving on. Know why specifically you will bring added value.
4. Understand the process. Find out what is in the budget for professional development for you. Who makes the decisions? What is the timeline for decision? What information is required for you to present to your employer to support your request? How have decisions been made in the past?
5. Negotiate. Be prepared to trade off some professional development that has already been approved with your preferred choice. Be prepared to negotiate for a portion of the enrolment fee if your employer won’t pay the full fee. Be prepared to invest in yourself as well as putting the request to your employer.
Laura Macro is partner and leadership coach at Soulzatwork Leadership for WomenTM. An active member of Career Professionals of Canada she is an advisor on the Organizational Development team, the Certified Interview Strategist Team, and the Certified Career Strategist Team.