Recent personal development studies show that more and more HR Managers are emphasizing on increased self-initiative in regard to professional and personal development. For the employee who wants to further develop himself this often means “exchanging free time for the future career”.

If you decide to go for a professional project management qualification or advanced project management training, you can probably count on the support of your employer. It is important though to clearly point out the benefits and added value for your organization rising from your increased knowledge and skills. So what key aspects should you focus on?

1. Look for the right timing

If you want to convince your employer to support your training costs, you need some strong and positive points in your reasoning. For a good timing, use the period after a successfully finished project to talk to your superior about your project management qualification plans. Watch out though, don’t overwhelm him with your plans. Simply set up a meeting to discuss your further development in your company.

Simulate such a meeting with another person (e.g. a colleague you trust, or a friend) by roleplaying potential questions and points in your reasoning. This allows you to prepare yourself for the meeting and gives you the advantage that you are less likely to be confronted with unexpected questions.

2. Show the benefits for your organization

Point out in which way your company can benefit from your newly gained project management knowledge. How will you be able to better handle your projects and what will be the effects on important key performance indicators like delivery on time, quality or cost development? Maybe a project management leadership training could help you manage your team more efficiently, helping to reduce conflicts and improve project communication?

Show how you plan to use your newly gained knowledge and how you can contribute to your organization’s projects with improved efficiency. Of course this requires transparent information about the training content itself. As a training provider we can help you on this.

Collect evidence for your training request. How can you prove that your project management qualification will bring benefits for your company Are there existing studies or documented effects for your branch that prove your training to measurably impact your projects quality? Use these numbers to create your line of argument.

A successful training and qualification might further motivate other colleagues to go for a relevant project management training themselves. This helps to increase the qualification rate of your organization and creates an image of a caring and developing company. This is not to be underestimated in the current “War on talents” and makes your company an attractive employer.

3. Show dedication

Be ready to contribute to your professional growth. Your superior will react much more positively if he notices you are willing to invest in your career. Plan to invest weekends or vacation days for self-study and thorough preparation. Show how many hours of your free-time you plan to invest and how these hours are calculated. This creates transparency and convinces your organization that you have a plan for your project management qualification instead of “somehow starting to learn”.

This also forces you to make up your mind on potential challenges of your development efforts and helps to reduce the chance that you need to drop your efforts due to unforeseen situations.

Use your free-time in your reasoning. Free-time is a very valuable investment in your project management development and therefore it is only fair, that your company participates in the respective costs.

In addition, most companies can deduct investments for professional qualification measurements for their employees from their taxes.

4. Loyal employees are valuable

Convince your organization of your loyalty. Maybe in the past some employees left directly to a competitor after successfully finishing their qualification. Your company could be concerned that they spend money for developing you but then immediately lose you due to a better offer from somewhere else.

Bind yourself to your company by contractually agreeing on a period that you will stay with your company after your project management training (e.g. 2 years). If you leave earlier you simply need to pay back the qualification invest. If you are good in negotiating, you could even use such a talk to plan your next career steps within the organization.

If your employer is still hesitating you could also agree to pay the training yourself on the start but get compensated after you finished your qualification goal successfully (e.g. a project management certification like “PMP®”). This shows your dedication and underlines your readiness to invest as well.

5. Share costs

Do you really feel that this training would help you in your own development? Are the qualification costs still higher than your employer is willing to pay? You can still decide to share costs. Studies show: If you show that you are willing to invest own money and time into your development, more than 90% of all HR development professionals are willing to support your plans.

By the way, in Belgium, you can also split costs with the government, by letting KMO Portefeuille (dutch website) pay up to 50% of the cost of your training.

6. Your next step

Are you ready for the next step in your professional development as a project, program or portfolio manager together with your company?

Visit our PM Academy or Get in touch with me to discuss your next development steps.

The founders of Airbnb stumbled on a need when travelling to a conference. They were unable to pay for housing during their trip and they saw there was a potential market where people experienced the same issues. They went with a global strategy, where they create a virtual community platform where people could find unique accommodations for low prices as well as renting out their place to other people all over the world.

2: Strategic Planning

Strategic planning defines the business- and operating model of the organization based on the newly chosen strategy. Starting from strategic goals, it lists the initiatives that build the roadmap towards realizing a new successful organization.

In order for Airbnb to gain more members, they set up a business model that allowed free access to list properties. Moreover, people could have a look around and only had to pay when they wanted to make a reservation. Their focus laid on a good customer service and maximizing satisfaction by presenting Airbnb as trustworthy and customized. To serve their customers 24/7, they needed a reliable, but flexible website.

3. Business Analysis

Business Analysis is the process of identifying the needs of the organization and finding the right solutions for the business challenges.

Airbnb is the market leader, but is aware of competition and business challenges. They sensed they had a need for developing a sustainable competitive advantage, preserve customer’s loyalty and trust, and adapt to legal issues. They enumerate several strategic solutions. First, create awareness and foster an increase of usage. Secondly, establish partnerships to integrate the platform of Airbnb to promote their business. Last but not least an expansion towards an international user base. In all of these solutions, a well built and maintainable website is essential.

4: Program Management

Program Management is the art of steering the projects in the transformation roadmap towards the expected benefits the company wants to realize, making optimal use of available resources and managing potential risks along the way.

​The AirBnB-business model is easy to understand, but its realization comprised the alignment of multiple projects. All of them, digital and nondigital, had to be integrated. Some, like building a website architecture and creating marketing content, ran parallel to each other. But the start of some projects, e.g. the build of specific landing pages, depended on the success of others, like employing good developers. Managing these projects on a higher level and integrating them to enforce the same vision, was a real tour de force.​

5: Benefit Realization

Benefit realization is the process of following up and measuring the benefits during the execution of the project(s), to ensure that strategic goals can be reached.

At the start, Airbnb’s founders didn’t dare to expect too much Return on their investment. But in 2014, after comparing estimated numbers to realistic ones, they felt confident to reset the targets more ambitiously. With their list of accommodations in 33,000 cities and 192 countries still expanding, the original projections became obsolete. In line with their value of flexibility, Airbnb’s Management chose to respond accordingly and change their plans. They decided to tackle a new market by creating comprehensive travel planning guides for each community it currently serves, with rental listings.

We’re looking forward to the road ahead!

* the average lifespan of a top 500 S&P company is plummeting, source: Innosight Research Paper Picture by Manfred Majer

Delphine Van De Walle

Delphine Van De Walle
HR Coordinator

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