seek learning: How to negotiate study with your boss - Michelle Gibbings

Michelle was recently featured in this article on the seek learning website talking about how to negotiate study with your boss.

Asking a manager for time to study can be daunting, but what if a course will help build your career? Here’s how to negotiate study with your boss.

You’re thinking about studying, but you still want to hold onto your job. Whether you want time off work or altered hours to fit in study, an employer is more likely to support you if the education will benefit the work you do. So, it’s important to be prepared before you broach the subject with your boss.

1. Map out the details

With so many different study options available, it’s vital to know what type of study you want to do and how it will benefit your work.

Career expert and author of Career Leap: How to reinvent and liberate your career, Michelle Gibbings says before you approach your boss about taking time to study, you should have the following details mapped out:

  • The duration of the course/s
  • The amount of time you are expecting to be away from work, and if the course is during working hours or after hours
  • If the course connects to any professional or technical accreditation your role requires or would benefit from
  • The cost of the course
  • The skills you’ll acquire
  • The kind of support you’re looking for. For example, do you want your workplace to fund the whole course, part of the course or give you time off for study leave?
  • Whether your workplace has an organisational policy about study support.

“While you get benefits from the study, your boss is more interested in what it means for them,” Gibbings says. “Be ready to explain how studying is going to help you do your current role better.”

2. Make the time to talk

Schedule a time to sit down and discuss studying with your boss. It can be worth flagging what you want to talk about beforehand so they have time to consider your proposal.

“All negotiations are give and take,” Gibbings says. “Consider what you can do in return to help your boss. They may be worried about how the work will get done when you aren’t in the office, so make sure you have thought through how you will continue to manage your workload along with additional study requirements.”

3. What to say

Outline your reasons for wanting to study

Tell your boss the course you want to study, why and what’s involved—such as the cost, providers, and accreditation.

Highlight the benefits to the organisation

Be specific about what completing the course will mean for your skills and knowledge, and how this will positively impact the workplace. For example, it may reduce the need for supervision, expand the services the organisation currently offers or improve customer service.

Ask for the specific support you’d like (but be prepared to negotiate)

Provide detail about whether you’d like your fees covered, if you’d want your working hours altered or if you’d like to take paid study leave. Make sure you talk about how you’re going to manage your time so that your job performance isn’t negatively impacted.

“Don’t be deterred if your boss won’t support you financially or with time off,” Gibbings says. If this happens, you may need to consider a shorter course, part-time study or off-campus options in order to pursue your commitment to further education.

These simple strategies can reduce the stress you might feel in bringing up the topic of study with your boss. And with the right planning and preparation, learning while working can boost your career and benefit your workplace as well.