Five Tips for Presenting Professional Development to Your Boss

Today’s professional skills landscape is moving faster than ever before. Are you staying up-to-date on your skills?

Woman speaking to colleague

Whether it is technology, globalization or other disruptive market forces, there is constant pressure to better your skillset to maintain relevance and marketability within your industry. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities for professional development, so you don’t have to look far for courses, workshops or professional conferences to provide you with additional avenues for learning. The question is, how do you present these opportunities to your boss in such a way that she will be willing to underwrite your professional development? Most companies have resources designated to support professional development, so all you have to do is convince your manager that it’s worth it.

Here are five tips to make your case:


These three words, “Return on Investment,” are essential for a successful case for support. Make it clear to your boss what skills or tools you will gain through your training and how they will affect the bottom line of the organization. Will you be able to automate a manual process with a new software package, better identify potential clients through data analytics or better manage your team through advanced leadership techniques? Make it clear to your boss just what you will bring back to your office

Trainee to trainer

Will you be able to pass along your upgraded toolkit to your organization? If so, lay out your plan for becoming a super-user, an in-house trainer, or a leadership coach, and make your enthusiasm to help the organization succeed clear to your boss. Playing one of these roles increases your value and makes your role more critical to the organization’s success.

Personal development plan

Tie your professional development to your personal development plan. This personalized growth plan should include goals for development within your organization and how these goals relate to the organization’s strategic plan. You should discuss this plan with your manager frequently so that he is already familiar with it when you request professional development funding. By asserting your commitment to the organization, you make it easier for a manager to invest in you.

Do your homework

Make sure you are able to answer questions that your manager will likely ask: Why do you need to take this course at this point of your career? What is the benefit of this new skill or toolkit to the organization (see 1-3 above)? Where else do they offer this same training? Can you take this course online? Is this the highest-quality, most cost-effective way to take this course/workshop? If your manager sees that you have already done your homework, she will be more likely to say yes.

Be candid*

When making your case to your boss, be honest about skills that you need to develop to be successful, and where your current skillset falls short. Your boss will appreciate your openness and candor.
*Caveat: If there is a skillset that you should already have, given the nature of the job you were hired to do, you may not want to be quite so candid. Otherwise, your boss may second-guess your hire in the first place.

To sum up, be prepared to make the case that the investment in your professional development is worth it to your company. By connecting your development to the organization’s success, you make it easy for a savvy manager to make that investment in you. What tips have proven to be successful for you?

Author Information
David Vassar
David Vassar, Ph.D.
Professional & Corporate Programs
Assistant Dean


8 a.m. - 6 p.m. CT



Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies - MS-550
Rice University
Houston, TX 77005


Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies - MS-550
Anderson-Clarke Center
Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005