We women are often blocked when it comes to asking for what we want.
This holds true even when it comes to asking for additional training at work. Maybe you were taught to be polite and to go for what you want – but only if you weren't too demanding? As women ... how do we best reconcile that?
In researching my book Pause (and stretching personally to make bold asks) I created a six-step plan for women: How to negotiate to learn new things at work.
Honoring your deepest desires to learn and grow while voicing them is also an act of self-care – and one that can pay off in spades.
No matter what skill I am working on, I am becoming a more empowered feminine leader when I ask for support ... and influence others based on what I've learned.
For the past several years, I’ve made bold asks from my employer to support and cover trainings including coaching certification, graduate and non-accredited courses, week-long emotional intelligence leadership retreats, and somatic leadership training.
Blaze on and trust your feminine intuition to make your bold ask. If you do get a no, all it means is “no for now.”
Improving our skills and being exposed to new ideas not only makes us better at our jobs but makes us happier and more engaged at work.
This is also true if you are struggling on the work-life balance beam.
It can be tough to find the time and resources for anything that’s selfishly for you, let alone for your own personal development. I encourage you to stay the course, tap into your hungers – and then go for it!
The pre-requisite: Give yourself permission.
Women often believe that asking for what we want is a selfish act, or perhaps our time should be spent elsewhere. Not true! We women are limitless!
The moment you decide to go for something, pause and trust ... you can create space for it to happen ... with a little intention, planning and support.
- 1. Identify how you want to learn and grow. Get clear on exactly what you want to learn and how you want to do it. Do you want to build your emotional intelligence skills to be a more attuned business leader? Are you interested in a yoga or meditation retreat? Set aside a specific period of time, such as an hour, one evening or even a weekend to explore ideas. Research what appeals to you. Be vigilant and create boundaries for yourself to get it done. Journal or write it down. Research shows that writing has a neurological effect on the brain, effectively saying: "Wake up and pay attention!” When you write you honor the feminine value of creating.
- 2. Own it. Women are especially prone to think that if we need to study up on something, we lack a competency or have a particular weakness. Not true! View this as a skill to develop. Step into owning it as part of your commitment to your emerging feminine leader. The first step is the ability to own your desire to grow in this area ... and that will ripple into the work arena. If you don’t support yourself, no one else will.
- 3. Create your vision statement. This is a powerful feminine leadership move. Create your vision statement and orient from there. Visions guide us to think big and are generative from a vast open world of possibilities. They infer possibility and are a beacon ... a hint of the person we can become. Ask yourself, “Who will I become as a result of this investment in my time and resources?” Will you be more engaged, influential or mindful? Be specific and descriptive. Keep it in the first person. One sentence is ideal. Write it down, read it daily, and continue to refine it as you evolve.
- 4. Connect your goals or outcomes to your employer needs. These are more specific to task outcomes and can flow easily once you’ve created your vision. To get buy-in from your manager, team, or company, connect what you will gain to their business objectives.
- Are there issues at work that you could better resolve as a result of this training? In what ways will your company benefit from your improved performance, skills or knowledge?
- What specific skills or knowledge can you share with your manager, team, and/or company from your training or experience? Can you provide a recap (verbally or visually) based on what you learned or how you plan to apply this at work or in your career?
- 5. Prep and practice. Get ready for the conversation and to make your ask. What are the worst and best-case scenarios? Anticipate questions or concerns. Extra credit if you make your own note cards or flash cards. To my knowledge, nobody I know was let go for asking to learn more. Trust that you are prepared while you acknowledge any fear. Anticipate negotiating, or the opportunity to explore alternatives. Figure out how you will celebrate when you receive that long awaited: “Yes”.
- List out what is negotiable – things like timing, budget and activity. Is partial or full reimbursement possible? Can you avoid using vacation days? One colleague of mine negotiated a week-long leadership retreat where her manager agreed to only log 50 percent for vacation time – that’s 2.5 days she got back in vacation!
- When preparing for your conversation, think specifically about what each person involved in making the decision has to gain. Do your homework and read up on HR policies. Know how educational reimbursement works in your company.
- 6. Make your ask. When you’re ready to sit down with your manager, don’t catch them off guard. Give them ample notice and consider adding it to the agenda for your next one-on-one meeting. It doesn’t have to be a formal meeting. If you’re catching up on how your weekend was, make a plug for what class caught your eye and why it matters to you. Better yet, offer how you think it helps you be a better leader in the workplace. Offer to provide a recap or follow up training based on what you learned open to the whole team or organization. If more time is needed, offer to schedule more time to discuss further.
- Recap your vision and goals. Be clear about what exactly you’re asking for – is it for time off, compensation (expenses), or some combination of the two? What will they get in return? Refer to your notes if needed. When the conversation is over, consider following up in writing, emphasizing how this would benefit you and your manager, team or business.
- Be grateful! As a feminine leader, you can be grateful for so much and send gratitude to others. Whether it’s in silence in a full conference room or with your manager, or as you pass someone in the hall, an attitude of gratitude never hurts when it comes to making bold asks. An example is, “Thank you [MANAGER NAME] for supporting me and helping me reach my potential.”
There are three likely outcomes: getting what you’ve asked for, getting some of what you asked for, or getting a flat out “no.”
By following these steps, you will increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome. Even if you get a no, think about how you could reshape your ask for the future.
Remember, just by making your bold ask you are contributing to, and maybe even igniting, a corporate culture that supports individuals to learn and grow in ways beyond the status quo. And that is leadership.