Have the right conversations with the right people to achieve your goals.
We have a great topic for this discussion, addressing a question several Everyday Innovators have asked before, which is… “How do I get my manager to pay for product management training?” My guest will share the right and the wrong ways to get your manager and organization to support your professional development.
He is Matt Burns, an HR executive and winner of Canada’s Most Innovative Use of HR Technology award.
Summary of some concepts discussed for product managers
[5:18] How common is it for organizations to reimburse for training?
In my experience, it’s pretty common as long as the training has a direct correlation to the person’s current role. It’s also more common the shorter the training is. Many companies have a specific budget for each person. Longer training programs require more of a conversation between the employee and supervisor because it’s a bigger investment. I’ve also seen partial reimbursements for training that is not directly related to the employee’s job if the company values continuing education or professional development.
[9:10] Where should someone start the process of finding and paying for training?
The first thing would be to have a conversation with your immediate supervisor about your professional goals. This should be an ongoing conversation not just related to professional development. Your supervisor can let you know what the professional development budget is. Some employees might have a mentor or coach who can also provide input. HR can also weigh in about reimbursement and help you to connect with training opportunities.
[12:52] How do you have this conversation with a manager?
It comes down to the basic tactics of negotiation. You need to have a clear picture of what your career path is and how this training fits into it. This should happen before you request a specific training experience and be part of an ongoing relationship with your supervisor. The other thing to consider is ROI and what you will get out of the investment the company is making. You should be able to connect it to what you do currently and/or where you see your future at the organization.
[16:41] How does the request for training relate to an annual performance review?
This is a perfect time to bring up training. You are reflecting on past performance and your goals for the next year. You also have your manager’s attention and a captive audience. Asking for training should not come as a surprise to your manager. This is also the time when organizations are building their budgets for the next year so you can work training into it.
[21:37] What if the answer is no? How can someone move past that?
The first question I would have is “why not?” You want to understand some of the pressure around where the no is coming from so you can try to overcome them. If cost is a concern, you can tie it back to how the training will help you increase revenue for the organization. If the concern is timing, you can talk about training in off hours or postponing it until a more convenient time. Some people are afraid to ask the question because they are afraid they’ll hear that they are not valuable to the organization. Even if that’s the case, it’s something you should know as an employee and can serve as the start of a longer-term discussion about your future at the company.
“Iteration is key to innovation.” -Sebastian Thrun
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it on your favorite social network.