Getting to the “yes”
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.
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
- Outline what you hope to accomplish by attending the conference.
- Consider your executive’s viewpoint and know which key selling points will be important.
- Show the long-term payoff. Executives often think about the number of days you will be out of the office. Help your executive see that you will be gaining skills and knowledge for the long-term.
- Gauge your executive’s communication style. Does your executive prefer short and to the point or does your executive like details?
- List the specific topics that will be covered and how they relate to your work. Tie key learning points of the conference to your professional development plans.
- If you receive a “no”, consider asking how you might make this a better investment for your company.
- Emphasize the benefits of networking and learning from others in the profession from a variety of industries.
- Ask your executive to cover the cost of the registration and hotel and you will pay your flight or mileage. Be creative!
- Last but not least, I have created a video for you to share with your executive. Click here for video
Principles of Persuasion (Downloadable PDF)
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.