Ideal scenario, right? And it’s perfectly reasonable to ask, “Will my company pay for my studies?” You know it’s going to help your job, raise your capabilities and add great value to your company. But can you explain this well enough for your colleagues and boss understand? If you walk into this blindly, you may emerge empty-handed.
Have your ducks in a row, going in
• Make your boss more intelligent! Bosses are really stretched cognitively, as they have so many things to deal with. Put your message across in a simple clear and intelligent way to help them do their thinking.
• Understand the current context and challenges of the company. Put your request squarely in line with these, and not some fantasy world.
• Know exactly what course you want to do – if your request is vague, expect an answer that is just as vague. By showing that you’ve deliberated on this and how it will benefit both you and the company, it indicates your seriousness. It also informs your boss exactly what the bottom line is.
• Raise your game. Use your written, graphic, numeric and verbal skills to explain you’ve selected that specific route, and how it will make you a more valuable member of the organisation. Your company paying for studies brings all-round benefits.
• Know whether your company has tuition assistance policies or training funds available, and approach HR first. They may be able to put you on track straight away, saving everyone time and hassle.
• Think carefully about, and list, at least three good reasons to return to learning, and why these studies are good for both you and the company. After all, in today’s fast changing environment, ongoing executive education is a necessity to keep up and stay ahead. Your boss will surely relate to the fact that lifelong learning is crucial, as business management techniques are ever-evolving.
What are the benefits to the company?
• Whether you’re after a Postgraduate Diploma or MBA, your boss needs to know whether this is a good investment. Approach this like a boss student! Research, using your best business brain, the specific benefits that your increased knowledge and skills will bring to the organisation, both in terms of your inputs and outputs, and those of your team. Read up on how to structure a good argument and use those techniques. Practice your elevator pitch.
• Think along these lines: Will this course make you more trustworthy with big projects? More innovative under pressure? Will you bring more efficiency to your company? How will it help the company rebuild after the crises? Will you help it scale and diversify? Will you grow in accountability and be a better manager of difficult projects? Will you be able to take on more responsibility? Will you be better able to empathise and lead others, and help upskill and improve the performance of team members?
Get the process in motion
A good way to start this process would be to send the boss a short, carefully thought-out and persuasive e-mail asking for a conversation or advice. Depending on the reply, in the meeting or follow up email:
• Explain how something in the work environment triggered this idea, and how you grasped the notion with enthusiasm. This will indicate leadership on your part.
• Mention the research that you’ve put into this, and how these additional management studies would be practical, productive, and industry-relevant.
• Ensure that the thrust of your communication is that you’re happy with the company, you want to contribute more, and that this will enable you to be a better you. Your boss should not get the sense that you want to study further as a result of being dissatisfied or restless.
• Be aware that the constant thought running through your boss’s mind as he/she reads your mail, is “how will this benefit us, and is it an investment that will show dividends?”
• Indicate that you’re keen to be a better leader, and that you can’t wait to share the benefits of your studies with your team. Be sure to focus on the “we”, and not just the “me”. Make it clear that you want to enhance the contribution that you make, helping the company in tough times, as well as propelling the company forward to a stronger future.
• Clarify that this proposed management course will not impact on your day-to-day responsibilities within the company, but will instead contribute to your improved performance, as you apply your new learned skills in your workspace, immediately.
• Use credentials to add weight to your argument. Henley Business School Africa is a triple-accredited international business school, and has a solid reputation amongst learning institutions in South Africa, just as the Henley network has internationally. It also is dedicated to manageable, flexible, family-friendly learning.
• Be specific throughout, and succinct. Smart people know that their bosses value brevity, but with substance. This indicates that you’ve thought this through and have a keenly focused idea of which course you prefer, and its benefits to you and the company.
Why is executive education important?
• Someone has to build a new world. And businesses are the engine of economic growth. Good leaders are good managers, and good managers are the engines of growth for businesses. In a deeply challenged and stressed economy as we are living in now, never have good managers been more important to businesses and to society – which is why the exciting concept of transformational leadership matters so much. True leaders should constantly question and revise their outlooks and approaches, given that the bigger picture – the environment in which our businesses operate – is forever changing, evolving and surprising us. As the rate of change accelerates, with technology bringing new ways of doing things, you have to stay ahead of the game if you want yourself and your business to thrive.
#JobResetFest: Executive Education Info Session
But are employers investing in staff education during the pandemic?
• Research shows that those companies that have innovated and developed people during a crisis not only rebound fast afterwards but maintain a sustained and healthy growth as well. Astute leaders don’t sit still and keep their heads down in a crisis. They work twice as hard to see the opportunities that are coming to change their businesses, upskill their people and so re-emerge with dynamism after the pressures recede. No proactive company can afford to sit out the doldrums, and this is quite evident at Henley Business School Africa, which delivered 728 graduates at the half year graduation ceremony, Class of 2021.