At Ama La Vida, we have 9 culture commandments. One of the commandments is to be a perpetual student. That means different things to different people. Our philosophy and take on it is that our coaches and operations team should be finding opportunities to better themselves. This includes both personal and professional development.
It can be learning a new set of skills or strengthening existing skills. This can mean pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone to learn something new about yourself or a particular topic. This is a form of development. Traditionally, many of us think of development in a school setting. After all, most of us spent upwards of 18 years in school (pre-school to college) to educate ourselves, to learn new experiences, and to test our abilities. Once we were done with our formal “development,” we got jobs and learned skills provided by our employers. Why do we assume that the responsibility for our development is owned by our employers? If we want to be better and grow professionally and personally, we should take it upon ourselves to seek out opportunities that will allow us to do so.
Having exposure to hundreds of clients, we have noticed a segment of employees who stand out from the rest. We call them the ‘go-getters.’ The go-getters are those who understand the importance of being a perpetual student and who proactively seek out opportunities to grow. They are so hungry for development, they are willing to spend money out of their own pocket.
From an Employer Perspective:
These are the types of individuals I want to hire. Those who understand the importance of development and those who will take it upon themselves to seek it out. This tells me that I don’t need to force them to learn, rather, they are internally motivated to be better and if they are bettering, they are bettering the organization and those around them.
Because of this, many employers are more than happy to invest in their employees’ growth. In fact, companies have set aside funds for professional development. Some companies are very explicit about these professional development funds and tell you how much money you have per year to spend on your development. Other companies don’t have a formal policy. Either way, it would be of benefit to you to first understand that these types of resources exist and how to get professional development budget for your employer.
According to the Association of Talent Development’s 2017 State of Industry report, employers spent on average $1,273 per employee on learning and development. Most employers understand the importance of learning and development and want you to be proactive in your growth. When clients come to us for leadership coaching, we urge them to obtain funding from their employer.
We do this for several reasons:
- It shows their manager they are serious about their growth and the firm’s growth. If you are a manager, you know what I’m talking about. Have you ever looked down on an employee who asked to learn more? We like to reward those who like to learn. You too should be rewarded for your desire to be better. It also allows the manager to support you in your development in other ways.
- It allows the company to be invested in the employee’s learning. This is very psychological. When we spend money on something, we have skin in the game and we care about it. When companies invest in your development, they will start to pay attention to you and your trajectory at the organization. This means you’ll have more resources and backing to continue your development journey.
- It creates greater engagement and loyalty to the organization. When someone does something good for us, we feel that we owe them something in return. When a company goes out of their way to support you and invest in you, you will have greater respect for your company and feel more invested in their success. This is good for you and for the firm. They are investing in you because they care about you. And in return, you pay it forward by helping the company grow.
Now you’re bought in. You have an internal desire to be better, to learn and to grow. You don’t really know what your company offers in terms of professional development but you want to invest in yourself.
How to ask for a professional development budget?
Find out what exists at your company
Talk to your manager and ask if there is any professional development budget. Understand what the process is in terms of requesting money, how to get reimbursed, what information the company will need, etc. Do your homework and understand what you need to be properly reimbursed.
Have all of the information
Understand what the service or training is that you’re looking for. For example, if you want to engage in leadership coaching, understand how many sessions you’ll have, who the company has worked with, how they will help, what the time commitment will be, the pricing structure and any other relevant information.
Make a business case
Now that you have all of the information, go to your boss to make a business case as to why you would like to invest in this development. Make it very clear for your manager to understand how this will help your growth and in return, how it will help the company. Your professional development growth should have a direct link to how it will help the business and how you plan to utilize this new skill or knowledge.
Keep the manager informed about your learning and progress
Once you have approval, be sure to keep your manager informed about what you learned and how you’re applying it. Your manager has made an investment in you and should be informed of your progress.
Make it easy for the company to sponsor you
Do the leg work! Make it very easy for your company to reimburse you. If there is a certain way they want you to submit the invoice, have it all ready to go. If you have to submit proof for what you did, obtain the paperwork and submit the information proactively. When Ama La Vida clients are being sponsored, we always ask, “What do you need in order to get reimbursed?” And accordingly, we follow the protocol (within reason) so that it’s easy for the client and the company. This also makes it easier for you to obtain approval should you want more professional development budget in the future.
Kudos to you for being a go-getter. Your company is lucky to have you! Take a proactive role in your professional development because we want you to be always bettering and so does your employer. It’s a win for you, it’s a win for them.
Remember that professional development isn’t only about taking an online training course – perhaps it’s going to a conference so that you can be surrounded by innovative minds or it’s investing in your professional growth by seeking out a leadership coach. Figure out what you want to learn, why it will help you and your employer, how you plan to use it to better yourself and make the ask to be sponsored. You’ll be surprised how well received this request will be, and you’ll be happier knowing you are bettering yourself.
Go on, be a perpetual student. Invest in your growth. The return on investment is infinite.