Give boss a reason to grant requests


February 06, 1994|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

I want it. I deserve it. I'm going to ask for it. But not today. Today wouldn't be good. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day . . .

You're about to make one of the following requests of your boss, which she almost certainly is not going to want to hear:

* Will you give me a raise?

* Will you promote me?

* Can I come in late -- or leave early -- because of my child-care problems?

* Can you assure me that my job will be safe if the company makes cutbacks?

* Will you give me more responsibility (power, autonomy, authority)?

* Will you include me from now on when you call meetings or distribute informational memos?

* May I take a longer maternity leave than company policy dictates?

* May I work fewer -- or different -- hours?

* Is this really my responsibility?

Here are nine questions to ask yourself before you ask your boss one of the above "I don't want to hear it!" questions:

* What's in it for my boss to grant this request? What positive results can she expect? How will this make her job easier or ensure that more credit comes her way? What am I willing to offer in return?

* What reasons might she have for turning me down? Could saying "yes" inconvenience her, put her at risk, or set an unwelcome precedent? If so, what can I do to eliminate or counterbalance the problems?

* Have I checked company policy concerning the subject I'm about to broach? How have others fared who've made this request? How did their seniority, title, job description and circumstances compare to mine?

* What's the current state of my relationship with my boss? Are we generally compatible? Have we worked well together lately? Have I gone the extra mile for her? Have I been an asset -- or a liability? If your relationship needs shoring up, now is the time to do it.

* Have I organized my thoughts so that I can make this request and, if necessary, argue my case in a logical, concise manner?

* Have I rehearsed the way I want to look and sound while I ask this question? Am I prepared to maintain a posture and tone of voice that's neither belligerent nor servile, but reasonable and matter-of-fact?

* Have I also rehearsed what I'm going to say if my boss turns me down? Am I prepared to not take her refusal personally, but to do what I can to leave the door open for further consideration -- without haranguing or harassing her or becoming overly emotional?

* Have I asked colleagues I trust -- both in and out of this company -- whether they think this is a reasonable request? Did they think the request would be granted, or seem shocked that I'd think of asking for such a thing?

You wouldn't let other people's opinions dictate whether you make a request, of course, but if you trust them, hearing what they have to say -- and perhaps adjusting the content and/or timing of your request -- might be a good idea.

* Finally, am I clear about what I'll do if I meet with defeat, assuming that my request is reasonable and fair and not expressly forbidden by company policy, and that my overall performance is above reproach?

It's often best to decide ahead of time whether to swallow such a defeat gracefully or look for another job and another (more reasonable) boss -- keeping in mind that the one unacceptable option is to accept defeat ungraciously and allow stored-up resentment to sabotage your career.

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