Three Tips to Manage Employer Expectations
To go or not to go? That is the question. Unfortunately, if you’re looking through this blog, you’re probably in the same shoes I was almost two years ago: Looking at the program schedule and thinking, “How am I going to ask my manager for every other Friday off?” It requires a lot of trust from your manager, but it can be done. Most of us had to request time off or had to come up with a plan to ensure that work wasn’t interrupted while we were in school.
The following advice is what has worked for me and some of my classmates. Hopefully it can help you get to that next level in your career, with the support of your employer!
- Create a plan that satisfies your employer’s needs and still gives you flexibility: Something I was lucky to negotiate with my manager was working 80 hours in nine days instead of ten days. You can do this by working an extra hour in the morning or at the end of the day on a weekly basis. This approach can be either rigid or flexible, depending on your manager’s style and what is expected of you. If you are doing your work and things are getting delivered with a consistent level of excellence, your managers will be more likely to support your growth.
- Make yourself available at times you know you have breaks: Break times are a little hard to predict because they are usually based on the energy of the classroom, but lunch is routinely between 12-1:30pm. I’ve told my coworkers that I am unavailable most of the day but if emergencies come up, I can communicate for an hour and a half over lunch. I’ve very rarely had to take calls or join meetings over lunch, because I front load my meetings during the week. However, I try to support my company as much as possible by joining important meetings during lunch time when necessary.
- Step out and be available as needed: On a few occasions, I have had to step out of class to present on calls. In these cases, I try to make my professor aware and I also let my team at work know that I can only stay for the duration of the call where I will present. I’m also vocal with my stakeholders the week of the call, to remind them respectfully that I will be in class that Friday and will step out to present. I also ask to be first. By communicating ahead of time, I can get the agenda re-arranged to accommodate my needs and those of my stakeholders.
At this point I may sound like a broken record, but with any type of time commitment, communication is key. I think it’s also important to highlight the benefits of your education to your employer by sharing your insights with them. Come to a mutually beneficial agreement that both you and your manager can feel good about, and don’t be afraid to ask!