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7 things your boss DOES and DOES NOT want to know about your course

By Debbie Cosier

Let’s face it, bosses usually aren’t bad people. Most of the time, they really are interested in things like how your family is, what you got up to on the weekend, and how your current online course is going.

But they are still the boss. While they do care about your wellbeing, another part of their very busy boss’s brain will always be thinking about how these things influence your productivity and whether you’re in good shape to deliver your work (or not).

We sometimes forget that this is how they are paid to think.

Here’s another thing we often don’t realise: we believe that our boss will be nothing but overjoyed about the new course we are studying because it will improve our work skills, right? Well, not so fast.

Let’s get this straight: there is no benefit in doing a course related to work and NOT let your employer know, however, there are certain rules we must observe if we want to see our course pay itself off with a coveted pay rise or promotion. This all has to do with considering what we say in light of how our boss thinks.

study is NEVER too hard

I’m coping with my study JUST FINE, thank you.

Observe below, the seven rules about what bosses do and don’t want to know about your course:

  1. Bosses DO want to know what you will be able to do after this course. A well-chosen course is vital in making a strong impact. Doing a course that upgrades your skills will make you stand out from the crowd. You can make your own ‘big break’ this way. You only have to capitalise on it the right way.
  2. Bosses DO want to know the value you will add to the overall business. Point out the new skills you will soon have and the processes you can implement that will make a difference to productivity and/or services. Be a leader in your field by suggesting how to make the business stronger.
  3. Bosses DO want to know that you are implementing your new found skills and knowledge. Once you have the new skills and understanding, practice and apply these in low impact ways until you are confident that you can apply them in ways that really make a difference. (Please note that in some areas such as health care, you must be FULLY QUALIFIED before you begin to practice. Until then, only implement your new skills with approval and under direct supervision.)
  4. Boss DON’T want to know the nitty-gritty of the course, so don’t fall into the TMI trap. Truth be known, most bosses employ you to work out the details. You’re the expert in your area, right? It’s much the same with a course. Mention that you’ve mastered the new accounting package and you’re all good because they can see how that would be very beneficial and how it warrants the next pay grade, but volunteering the details about how a pivot table works in Excel may only serve to highlight how exhausting your reports will be if they promote you to a management position! Spare the details!
  5. Bosses DON’T want to know how hard the course is. While you may think you’re bound to score brownie points by showing just how much you’re ‘sacrificing’ yourself for the job, complaining about how hard your course is may actually reveal more than you intend it to. What if your boss is considering you for a new project this may just be convincing enough to put doubts in their mind.
  6. Bosses DON’T want to know how much it is costing you. While it is wonderful when bosses agree to pay for a course, unless this was arranged before you began, you have probably missed the boat. You will get lots more kudos (initiative points) if you pay for it yourself. It shows a level of confidence that is appealing to an employer, because you are showing that you believe in investing in yourself. It demonstrates your drive and leadership.
  7. Bosses DON’T want to know that you just need to complete an assignment today. Just because your study is work-related, doesn’t mean that you’re welcome to use work time to complete assignments unless you’re doing an internship where a work project is an expected component of your course. Believe me, this is a deal-breaker! Employers need you to fulfil today’s responsibilities today.

Studying, upgrading skills or branching out into a new career is something that most people choose to undertake at some point in their working lives. This is usually so that they can leverage their position in some way through securing their current role, seeking promotion, or applying for a new job.

Completing your course is only the first step towards achieving these goals. How you use the course must also be considered carefully and carried out wisely. Be smart about it!

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