17 Aug 2021

How to get your manager to invest in your professional development

Professional development
How to get your manager to invest in your professional development

Becoming your own professional development champion can have huge benefits, no matter where you’re at in your project management career.

Some companies are incredibly organised when it comes to professional development, with defined learning programs and pathways. But it’s also common for companies to be so focused on delivering projects and juggling their limited resources that training goes on the back burner. If this sounds familiar, you might need to take matters into your own hands.
 

“Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change”

Peter Drucker, consultant, educator, and author


Professional development exposes you to trends in your industry, improves job performance, and can give you an edge over the competition when there’s an opportunity on the table. Membership with peak bodies such as the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) can be a great way to stay abreast of professional development opportunities through news and updates, events, training, conferences, and networking.

If you need to build a case for your professional development, here are some tips to help get your request over the line.

 

7 tips for getting your manager to invest in your professional development


1. Decide what professional development would suit you

Think about your current skills and where your gaps are. Talk to people who are already working in your dream job about the essential skills needed and work out how to build them. Explore courses, webinars, events, or conferences, or consider professional certification, or taking part in a mentoring program.

2. Get the word on the street

Especially if you are new to your organisation, do your due diligence by talking to your peers. Find out how the system works, what has succeeded in the past, and what you need to do to increase your chance of success. If you have a mentor, lean on them to help you get buy-in.

3. Be timely, but not pushy

Make your request at the right time. This can differ depending on your organisation. So, find out…should you bring this up at your annual review? Or when budgets are created? Or is there a scramble to allocate funds at EOFY time? Most importantly, don’t drop it on someone when you know they have a large workload and don’t expect a response straight away. Provide them with the space to take their time to consider your request before giving you an answer.

4. Make a specific ask

Do the work for them so that saying yes is easy. Present a few different options if you like but be specific in what you’re asking for. Include costs and a plan for how your workload will be covered if your request results in you being away from work. This shows you’re committed to your development, and it will be very clear to them what they are agreeing to.

5. Create a business case

Approach your request like any other project approval, with a business case that outlines how your professional development will support the organisation’s goals. If your organisation has a vision statement, mission statement, or company values, show how your request directly ties into it.

6. Lay out the benefits to your manager

Don’t focus so much on why this is good for you, but why it’s good for them. By undertaking professional development, will you become better at your job? Will your new skills save them time? Is there a strong ROI story? Can you share your new skills with the rest of the team in a lunch and learn?

7. Use testimonials and reviews to your advantage

Testimonials and reviews offer proof and peace of mind. Building a body of evidence that reassures your manager that they are making a great choice will help them say yes. If you can find people within your organisation that have completed the professional development option that you’re chasing, this will provide strong support to your case.


 

Email template

If you’re considering joining a peak industry body to access ongoing professional development opportunities, you could ask your manager to cover the membership fee. Here’s an email template to get you started.

 

Subject: Request for AIPM membership | Could [company name] support my professional development?

Hi [manager’s name],

I’m writing to request approval to become a member of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM). The membership offers fantastic opportunities to develop my professional skills through networking, webinars, events and conferences, professional certification, resources, and mentoring.

The AIPM is made up of over 8,000 project professionals, across Australia and internationally. It’s trusted by some of Australia’s biggest organisations, such as Aurecon, the Queensland Government, Power and Water, RPS, the University of Sydney, and Telstra.

"There is a wealth of knowledge amongst our members, and being able to tap into it is priceless," Nick Crossley, member since 2008.

Benefits to [company name]

  • I’ll be more effective in my job: My project management skills will improve through access to peers and project management expertise through events, the online community, and resources.

  • I’ll bring the latest thinking to our projects: I’ll be exposed to best practice, the latest news, and current trends in project management.

  • I’ll share my learnings to benefit the wider organisation: By circulating reports, sharing resources, and undertaking lunch and learn sessions, I’ll make sure that the rest of the organisation benefits from my membership. 

Investment

AIPM membership costs $[insert cost here] per annum. If you’d like to know more about the membership, there’s additional information available on the AIPM website.

Thank you for considering my request. I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards,

[Your name]

  

Good luck!

Well done for taking charge of your professional development and seeking support from your employer. We hope our tips help you get your request across the line.

If you’re not already, consider becoming an AIPM member (with or without the support of your employer!). As an ambitious, dedicated project professional, you’ll find it’s a great way to connect with like-minded people and access ongoing professional development that can help you achieve your career goals.

 

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