Don’t Get Personal! Make the Business Case for Flexible Work
Life happens. And flexible work arrangements make it happen better because of the time and flexibility they offer.
- Having a baby
- Building a new side business
- Missing your friends and relatives
- Taking an evening MBA program
- Wanting quantity time with your kids
- Meeting elder care demands
- Volunteering in the community
These are some of the reasons and motives that drive people to pitch a flexible work arrangement to their manager.
What do they have in common? They’re all related to personal life. And…
Your manager probably doesn’t want to hear about it!
It sounds harsh, but it’s generally true. When making your proposal for a flexible work arrangement, appeal to the interests of your manager and the bottom-line concerns of your employer, even though your interests are closer to heart and home.
A development officer for a non-profit organization in San Francisco told me that she was about to make her pitch for a part-time schedule by sweeping into her manager’s office with an emotional cry of “I miss my baby!”
Fortunately, she said she first came across my advice on the “Big Mistake” to avoid when requesting flexible work, and then developed a more sensible approach.
Likewise, plan to present the business case that would allow you to reduce your hours, telecommute, job share or otherwise restructure your job. Leave the WHY behind your request out of your proposal.
Ideally, in turn, your manager should make the decision to accept or reject your proposal based on the business merits, not based on the reasons why you want it.
This advice parallels that of the request for a raise; personal need is not the issue. “My two kids need braces.” “My car needs big repairs.” “We’re remodeling our kitchen.”
It just doesn’t fly.
Your justification for a raise must be based on the merits of your performance and contributions to your employer. Leave orthodontist bills and the high cost of hardwood cabinets out of the discussion.
It’s the same when asking for a flexible work arrangement. What’s in it for your manager? Your employer? How will they benefit?
Although your motives for a flexible work arrangement are personal—even emotional—resolve to present your case in an objective, business-like manner to boost the likelihood of getting your request approved.
By the way, the mom mentioned above took that approach and got approval of her part-time schedule.