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How to Ask for What You Want at Work

Advocating for yourself and speaking up on your beliefs or needs can be a great personal and professional skill. You are the only one who knows how you’d like to evolve in your career, and you are the only one who knows what outside factors at work might be impacting that path. For that reason alone, you need to stand up for yourself. Otherwise, you’re taking a passive role in your own career. You can’t rely on your manager, who has their own responsibilities, to know everything that is going on in your role and certainly not in your head.

So, why do so many of us have a hard time asking for what we want in the workplace? It might not be in your personality. It might be because you feel like you come across as ungrateful if you’re asking for something. Whatever the reason, you deserve a more active role in your career.

Here are 5 ways you can ask for what you want at work.

  1. Do the Research – Take a look at the statistics of your field and for someone with your experience. Once you do this, ask yourself three questions. First, how much does someone like you get paid nationally, regionally, and locally? Next, what benefits do companies or industries like yours offer, and which would be advantageous for you also to have? Lastly, what is the trajectory for promotions at your company? Are you on track with this?
  1. Evaluate Your Value – Figure out what you provide the company. If your organization or team didn’t have you, what would they be without? And put a number to it. For example, if you’re in sales, come up with a dollar amount of accounts or clients you’ve closed. If you’re someone in a trade or manufacturing industry, how many products or innovations would the company be without if it wasn’t for your work?
  2. Determine Your Needs – Before you schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss what you want, determine exactly what that is. Is it a promotion? Do you need a more flexible schedule or a change of schedule? Do you want more shadowing or mentorship opportunities? Figure out the specifics you will approach your boss with.
  3. Clearly Communicate Needs – Present what you want to your boss in the best way for them. Is your boss someone who needs specific examples as to why you deserve something you are asking for? Come prepared with examples. Is your boss a numbers person? Prove your value or worth in percentages, amounts, or monetary value. You know if it’s best to speak to your boss at 8am or 2pm. Choose your timing, approach, and strategy wisely.
  4. Follow Up Appropriately – Close the meeting by asking your boss when you should hear back on a decision. This helps clarify when you should follow up and creates an expectation for you and your boss coming out of the meeting. There might be more meetings or discussions that need to take place before a decision is made, and that’s a good thing to discuss during this initial conversation too.

It can be uncomfortable asking for something you want in the workplace. You won’t always get what you want, but the chance you do is higher if you ask for it. It never hurts to ask when the approach and what you’re asking for are well thought out. Have you ever asked for something at work? How did you go about it, and did it work out? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out How to Change Your Career or Industry?