You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get!

June 29, 2010 by Lynn Faughey

I often wonder why some people have been successful in arranging for flexible work, while others are not.  I’ve discovered that much of the reason is that people don’t even ask.  Most of the reason that they don’t ask is that they are afraid the answer will be no.  Well, the reality is, if you don’t ask, then the answer is automatically “no.”  So, if you don’t have the guts to ask, then you won’t get what you want.

I’ve realized that the way to address the fear of asking is to have a plan.  Don’t just go in to your boss’ office unannounced hoping the words will come out just right – most likely, they won’t!  Here are some quick tips to get you in gear to ask for what you want.
1)  DECIDE first what it is you actually want.  This may sound silly but you really do need to think through the various flexible options out there that might work for you.  Do you want to work from home occasionally?  And on what days?  Do you want to adjust your stop and start times?  Do you want to work less hours?  Decide on what you ideally want with your family first before you go into ask your boss.  Also, decide what you can live with as a back-up option if your first request isn’t received positively.
2)  SCHEDULE a meeting with your boss specific to this flexible work request.  Don’t try to fit this discussion in with a project update or a discussion on your performance.  Tell her in advance that you want to discuss some flexible work options so that she is in the right mindset to consider your proposal.  Don’t spring it on her out of the blue.
3)  PREPARE for the meeting.  Write down specifically what options you are requesting so you don’t end up babbling on the spot (e.g, Option1:  Work Fridays at home, Option 2:  Start at 9am, instead of 8am, etc.).  Also, pretend you are in your boss’ chair and anticipate what questions might come up and have answers prepared for them (e.g, How will anyone get in touch with you when you are not here?).  Also, consider how this new arrangement might positively impact your boss and outline these benefits. (e.g, if you are working less hours, will this help with the budget? Could your working from home allow you more frequent access to colleagues in another time zone?).
4)  CONDUCT the meeting with confidence.  When you actually meet with your boss, go in with a confident demeanor that will give her assurance that this new schedule won’t affect the bottom line results.  If you seem tentative and unsure yourself, how can you expect her to say yes?  If she seems concerned and doesn’t want to commit, offer a trial period where you can both re-assess at a later date if it is working. (e.g, How about if we give this a try for 4 weeks and then check in to see how it is going?)
Asking for the flexible work arrangement is often the most difficult hurdle in getting a flexible work arrangement in place.  Remember that if you don’t ask, you won’t get.  So, put your plan together, put on your confident face, and go for it!
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