How To Talk To Your Boss About Professional Development

Posted by Develop Admin
June 16, 2021

In today’s hyper-competitive job market, ongoing professional development is increasingly important. Knowing how to talk to your boss about training and development is a crucial skill for anyone who wants to advance their career. 

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, tech salaries rose by 3.6% in 2020. Tech professionals who  stayed up to date with new skills in their industries flourished and had less trouble finding new jobs and opportunities. 

You know that skills training is instrumental to being able to keep up with changing times, but not every boss is focused on employee training. Below are some tips on how to start a conversation with your boss about professional learning. 

Know The Benefits Of Skills Training

The tech industry changes rapidly. Best practices evolve and security regulations continuously change. Not only will skills courses help you stay up to date, but it can also refresh existing skills that may not have been used in a while.

One of the benefits of professional development is that in addition to learning new skills, it can be helpful to refresh existing skills, so that knowledge isn’t lost forever. Online learning such as Develop has made this even easier, as you can study whenever and wherever you want, on your own schedule.

Professional development is also the perfect way to network with others in your field. You can make connections even when developing skills through online education. Connecting with professionals at other companies can be a great way to get new ideas or discover best practices, as well.

Professional development doesn’t only benefit you, either. Your company will benefit from your increased knowledge and improved performance. You’ll also be better prepared to take on new tasks and challenges that may allow your company to expand. 

Additionally, from an HR perspective, companies who offer professional development resources gain a positive reputation as a company that invests in their employees. This can make it easier to attract new employees and keep skilled employees engaged. 

Do Your Research

You may understand the benefits of training for yourself and your organization, but does your boss? Doing your research in advance will make it much easier to talk about your goals and the type of training programs you need.

First, you’ll need to determine the types of skills you want to learn. Are you looking for soft skills training to become a better leader and communicator, or are there technical skills that you want to learn? Has there been a lot of growth in your niche that you need to get up to date on? Is there a new project at work that you want to get involved with, but don’t have the skills for?

After you’ve decided on your focus, narrow down your search to individual courses or subscriptions. Gather all of the info on the courses you’d like to take. Document the cost, time commitment, and goals of the courses.

Be Confident In What You Don’t Know

It sometimes seems that those that appear to know the most actually know the least. Admitting ignorance in an area shouldn’t be seen as a negative. Acknowledging weaknesses or skills gaps are signs of a good leader.

Being confident and knowing the areas where you’d like to improve will also make speaking to your boss about learning opportunities much more comfortable.

Connect Your Goals To The Company’s Goals

You’re more likely to get the response you are looking for if you connect the training to your current role and the goals of your department or company.. How will the skills you learn improve your organization? Make sure you have set specific goals for what training can do for your department or company.

Another great approach is to consider if you would be able to pass your training on to other colleagues through a presentation or workshop. This will boost the benefit that your company will see from your training.

Set The Tone

Once you feel prepared for the conversation, contact your boss in advance to let them know you’d like to have a discussion. Having time to prepare for the conversation will benefit you both.

Let them know that you’re looking to improve your skill set and grow within your company. Be sure to thank them for taking the time to discuss your future.

Talk To Your Boss

All of the time you’ve taken to prepare will pay off when it is time to talk with your boss. Show gratitude for the time they are taking to meet with you.

One way to start off the conversation is to ask your boss what they think your strongest skills are and where you can improve. Ask about their vision for the future of your company or department.

Let them know that you have a plan to reduce these knowledge gaps by gaining additional training, so you can better contribute to your team and the future of the company. Discuss the specific knowledge gaps that you’re looking to fill. Then explain how you think additional skills training would benefit the company.

Here’s where you can use all of your research to explain the skills training or learning environments that can build your skills. Connect those skills to your work to explain how they will improve your performance. 

If you have taken previous courses or know coworkers who have, it might be helpful to show examples of how this was helpful to your team or the company as a whole.

After your discussion, be sure to follow up with an email that includes a brief recap of your conversation, as well as the specific details of which courses you want to take, their costs and time commitment, and what you will learn in these courses. 

Be Prepared For Any Response

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive the response you’d like. Be open and flexible to other options to accommodate your work schedule.

If your organization is working on a big project, skills training may need to be delayed a bit. If your organization doesn’t have the funds to support your training immediately, maybe it will in the next quarter.

Be open and understanding with your boss in case you’re able to take advantage of an opportunity in the future.

Start Learning Today

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