Longing to book your place on an ILM Leadership & Management course in September? Spotted a Social Media Masterclass that would help you brush up on your social media skills?
Professional training opportunities can present themselves to you on a weekly basis, but if you’ve always stopped yourself from exploring your options and examining the benefits they could have on your career based on an awkward conversation, then our guide on how to ask your employer to pay for a training course will give you the confidence to tackle it in the best possible way.
The importance of Continued Professional Development (CPD)
Richard Branson once said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.”
Recognising the importance of CPD to your workforce is a huge shift in mindset that has changed phenomenally in recent years. When companies invest in their employees, it has a direct impact on productivity, employee retention and staff morale. Yet, some smaller companies still lag behind when it comes to leading the conversation with staff – leaving employees to initiate a conversation around training and CPD for themselves.
Does your company have a training policy?
Most employee handbooks will detail the company policy on training if one exists – either informing you that a policy is in place or stipulating the specific protocol for paid training. If you have no luck in finding the information you need to take your case forward, make a few enquiries with staff and the human resources department to understand the frequency of training courses if they are attended, and by whom? What was the process they followed in order to take part? Was there a budget?
Stating your individual case
Gather together all of the information you could possibly need to address any specific questions you may be asked before you look to write your case for a particular training course on email.
Your line manager may wish to understand what areas the qualification covers, the skills you will learn, how long it requires you to be out of the workplace for, and of course the cost involved.
Other obstacles you could come up against include the direct impact the course could have on your work, and who will cover your work while you are studying? Travel time may be a factor if the course isn’t run locally. If you can show you’ve thought of an action plan to cover off all these points, then your case will inevitably be stronger.
Do your homework
If your boss is particularly lean when it comes to budgeting, make sure you research what options are out there and detail a range of alternative options for them to choose from. This demonstrates that you haven’t just proposed the first course that comes into your head, but considered the investment you are asking your boss to make. You will often find that the bigger consideration is the time you would be away from the office, as opposed to the cost.
Return on investment
As with any investment there has to be a risk-reward trade off. In the list of negatives, is the risk that you may have the training and then move on to another organisation with your newly acquired skills. You may also have several chains of sign-off to contend with, so your request could be well received by your line manager but quashed by those further up the organisation. It is for this reason that you must clearly list the benefits of the training course to the business and to your personal contribution. These could be anything from increased productivity and skills transfer, to direct lead generation and added responsibility.
All too often training opportunities and continued professional development are reserved for those already performing, and the value it has in bringing on employees is undermined. Take a look back on the times where you contributed significantly to a piece of work and demonstrated some of the skills you are now looking to enhance, such as leadership. Your job role could also have changed recently, and you now find yourself in situations where you don’t yet have the experience to manage. It never hurts to list these practical examples to help your employer understand why you have made this request and highlight the ways in which the business will benefit from your new-found skills.
Draft your email
The easiest approach when it comes to stating your case is to write an email stating your case, as it can be read, re-read and digested in your boss’ own time and allows you to be clear and concise in your request. Asking face-to-face would put your boss under pressure to address your training request there and then, so start off with a written request and then feel free to approach them personally to follow it up at a later date if you haven’t heard back within a reasonable timeframe.
The more proactive you can be in detailing the training solution and listing several possible dates that you know the course is running on, the easier you will make it for your boss to come to an informed decision.
Don’t forget to sign off your email with a line that states you are expecting a reply or discussion – that way your boss will feel obliged to enter into a conversation on the matter.
Finally, don’t get disheartened if you don’t get the answer you were looking for. By opening up a conversation about training, will make things easier the second time around and at least your manager or boss will know that it is on your mind and that you take your career seriously.