The tools you need to gain approval:
You know the scenario. You read about a great seminar, workshop, or conference for administrative office professionals. The topics are of interest to you and will help you in your job. You walk into your executive’s office to request his or her approval only to hear “no”. You walk out. End of story.
Selling your executive on supporting your professional development is a skill. It’s also known as the art of persuasion. While teaching and coaching thousands of executive and administrative assistants nationwide, I have found that they don’t see they have to work at gaining support for training and development. They view it as “Yes, I’ll get to go” or “My manager will say no.” Instead, an assistant needs to think “This is a great program. This will help me become a top-notch assistant and a more valuable employee. How will I convince my executive that he or she will also benefit from my learning?” You now have your subconscious working to develop ideas on how to get a “yes” from your executive.
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I also hear assistants say, “My executive will never approve this” so they never even present their case to their executive. It’s all in positioning your thinking. You have to really believe that you are worth investing in and that you and your executive will both win big with this investment. Professional development is an investment, not cost (unless you don’t learn anything).
I’m providing this advice after being on both sides of the desk. For 20 years I was an assistant and I often had to persuade my executives to invest in my professional development by sending me to administrative assistant conferences. Since 1990, I’ve been on the other side of the desk as a CEO and I now see things as other executives and business owners do. There has to be a return on the investment made in an employee. Use the guidelines below to help you hear “Yes, you can attend the Office Dynamics Administrative Assistant Conference.”
Principles of Persuasion:
- Know exactly what you want to accomplish by attending the conference.
- To be a good seller, consider the buyer’s viewpoint. Try to put yourself in your leader’s position. What key selling points would be important to your leader?
- Learn what motivates your executive. Is your executive motivated by ROI, the skills you will develop, or you learning from an acclaimed expert in the field?
- Show your executive the long-term payoff. Often executives think about the number of days you will be out of the office. Help your executive see that while you may be gone four days, you will gain skills and knowledge that will take you, and them, into the future.
- Keep in mind the format you will use to present your case. Try to gauge your executive’s communication style preference. Does your executive prefer information short and to the point or does your executive like details?
- List the specific topics that will be covered at the seminar or conference and how they tie into your job or future work.
- Tie key learning points of the seminar or conference to your professional development plans for the year and goals of your department.
- If your executive says no, sincerely ask your executive why he or she believes this is not a good investment. You may be able to counter that perception.
- Emphasize the benefits of networking with peers and learning from others in the profession from a variety of industries and different parts of our world.
- Negotiate if necessary. Ask your executive to cover the cost of the registration and hotel and you’ll pay your airfare. Or, you pay for your hotel stay and ask your executive to pay for registration and airfare. Be creative!
- Last but not least, I have created a video for you to share with your executive. Click Here For Video
Most of the time assistants tell me they can’t attend our programs because of budget cuts. Sometimes it really is a budget issue. Other times, it’s just lack of showing the executive the ROI. Have the courage to go after what you want. That in itself is a learning experience.
Check out our tips on how you maximize your attendance before, during and after the event.
Joan has also crafted a letter to give to your leader. You may download it here.