I recently met two professionals who held similar roles in their respective companies. Both were in the process of getting their MBAs. One had the full support of his employer, the other did not. The one with management’s support was happy and excited about his degree. The one whose employer was not on board with his pursuit of the degree was stressed out and resentful.
Hint: Reassure Employers Your Goals Match Their Needs
If you are working full-time and spending your free time trying to get a degree you believe will make you more valuable to your employer, you’d like to think they’d respect and encourage your efforts. Yet, if you don’t follow these five tips, you could find yourself in the same situation as the professional whose company doesn’t support him in getting the degree.
While it may seem obvious to you that your focus on getting a degree is to help your employer, they might think it’s your master plan to get the degree and ditch them for something better. That’s why you need to do the following so you can get their buy-in.
1. Tell your employer BEFORE you start the program.
Set a meeting with your manager and explain your desire to get the degree. Reassure your employer that it will not conflict with your current workload and ask if there is anything you can do to make sure they are comfortable with this. The simple gesture of including them in the decision is a sign of respect to the company that is paying you to work.
2. Explain how you plan to use the degree to help the employer.
If possible, outline at least three ways you intend to use this degree to be more valuable on the job. You’ll show you really do intend to leverage the degree in your current role, as well as help the company save or make money.
3. Seek employer’s input on courses and areas of focus.
Offer to show your employer your course choices and see if there are any specific courses they would like you to take. This lets them identify knowledge gaps within the company and in your own skill set they can focus on upskilling for the good of the organization. Plus, it lets you start to position yourself as a subject matter expert where you can build up your knowledge per the company’s request.
4. Provide a quarterly update on your progress.
Offer to present a short update or draft an email that shares the progress you’ve made in school and how it is already helping you do your current job better. The more your employer can see you are immediately applying what you are learning, the better.
5. Incorporate company business problems into your assignments.
When possible, use company problems or scenarios in your schoolwork. This is a wonderful way to research these issues and offer possible solutions and provide added perspective for management. You can present the results in your quarterly updates and let them decide if there are any ideas worth implementing.
If you can follow the above, you should find yourself in a good place with your employer while you acquire that degree. It’s all in how you position it!
Disclosure: This post was written as part of the University of Phoenix Versus Program. I’m a compensated contributor, but the thoughts and ideas are my own.
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