John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker LLC
If you’re a solid performer, your managers really do want to know what will keep you satisfied and productive. They don’t want to lose you, physically or psychologically.
But, how ready are you to step up to the plate and hold an honest conversation with your boss or a senior leader in the practice? How willing are you to ask for what you really want?
When you think about it, it seems simple enough. You probably won’t get what you don’t ask for. And yet, some people hold back, expecting the boss to read their minds. Some end up settling for less and bring half their hearts (or brains) to work. Others decide it’s easier to leave than to ask. Most, however, realize there are times they’ll want a little more of something. And the best way to get it is to ask.
Start by getting crystal clear about what you want. Interview yourself:
- What about my job makes me jump out of bed in the morning?
- What makes me hit the snooze button?
- If I were to win the lottery and resign, what would I miss the most?
- What would be the one change in my current role that would make me want to stay for a long time?
Next, consider who, when and how you’ll ask. Do you need to talk with someone who has information you need? Or, someone who is a good listener and advice giver? Or, someone who is a decision-maker (the boss?) and in a position to respond to your request?
When you ask should be a matter of the other person’s preferences. Should you make your request via e-mail, voice mail, or face-to-face? Will it be better to have your meeting early in the morning, or over lunch? Monday, or later in the week?
The how of the request is important, too. Get right to the point in your conversation. Thank the other person for his or her time and say you have a request to make. Then, be specific about your request. What is it you’re asking for? You must give them something to say “yes” or “no” to.
Finally, identify the barriers you are facing. Fear is a pretty common one. But, fear of what? The answer? The person? Or something else? In order to get more of what you want at work, face your fear, plan your approach and go for it.
Is there a barrier in the form of your boss’s mind-set, constraints or concerns? If so, you’re wise to take this into account. The person you’re going to ask may well be bound by rules, policies, guidelines, and cultural norms. A desire to be fair can also come into play. If you think about what you’re facing, you can probably anticipate the problems and potential barriers to your request. Be prepared to present ideas for solving them. Seek solutions that work for you, them and the team.
One of the most easily overlooked barriers is the lack of WIIFT (what’s in it for them?). Before you go to your request grantor, stop and identify the WIIFT. Ask yourself, “What’s in it for that person to grant my request? How will she benefit? Is my request a ‘piece of cake’ or really difficult to grant?” WIIFT in hand, now you’re ready to ask. If you find the WIIFT, you increase the odds of getting a yes.
Now, what do you do if the answer is no? You can:
- Ask again (in a different way or at a different time)
- Ask how you can help make it work (by brainstorming possibilities)
- Ask someone else (can someone else help you with your request?)
- Ask what’s possible, if not this
- Ask when it might be possible, if not now
- Ask what you can do to improve the way you’re asking
Above all, don’t give up.
And when they do say yes, thank them – with words and in continued great performance.
You can find more on this subject in “Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work”, by Beverly Kay and Sharon Jordan-Evans.