Let’s face it: approaching your manager to request a flexible work schedule can be nerve-wracking, especially if you lack a well-defined plan.
What? No plan? You can plan on rejection of your request for flexible work if you make the #1 big mistake.
The #1 Big Mistake When Requesting Flexible Work
Winging it. That’s right. Asking without a plan—a plan in writing—will sink your flexible work wishes.
I read somewhere that “impulsiveness is the mother of regret.” Isn’t that a great line?
Though you need more time and a better work-life fit now because you’re…
- tired of the hectic juggling of work and personal needs
- tired of weekends filled only with chores and errands
- and just plain tired!
…don’t let your sense of urgency lead you into the proposal rejection trap.
Even reasonable managers can get irrational when it comes to non-traditional work schedules.
First, you risk an outright dismissal of the idea.
Or you might get an initial off-the-cuff, favorable response. Then, days later, your manager might dismiss the idea as unworkable. She may get second thoughts, or after suggesting the idea to her manager, be overruled.
Either way, the opportunity to present and negotiate your case has just slipped away like sand through your fingers!
What’s Better Than Winging It? (How to Avoid the #1 Big Mistake)
Set an appointment with your manager and be ready to present and discuss your written proposal which details your proposed flexible work plan and how it will work.
Why is a written proposal so critical to getting approval of your request? Without a well-organized document, you sap the muscle out of your flexible work request strategy in at least three ways:
1. Having no proposal document deflates the seriousness of your request and the strength of your desire.
Sure, your manager claims to be rational, but the truth is, even the most objective managers weigh decisions on some emotional level.
Thorough preparation in the form of a first-rate proposal reflects intensity of purpose and desire. Those are very persuasive elements. Translation: a YES is more likely.
2. Having no proposal document leaves your manager with doubts about ill-defined issues.
When faced with a non-traditional work schedule request, a hard-to-acknowledge fear of losing control has many managers reacting with a knee-jerk refusal.
Danielle Ouendag is an Environmental Affairs Manager who wanted a reduced workweek. She wrote me, “The day after I briefly mentioned my plans, my boss told me that it was unlikely that he would “do without” me one day a week. However, following the review of my proposal, he completely changed his story…” (She got approval.)
That’s the power of the proposal. Your written proposal provides concrete comfort to help relieve your manager’s doubts and fears, and it makes rejection of the request more difficult to argue down.
3. Having no proposal document leaves your manager ill-equipped when answering questions from superiors if higher-level approval is needed.
Yet, if you equip your manager with a ready reference and specific replies to likely questions, she’s more likely to press your case.
Whether you research and write your own from scratch or use my proposal template, do prepare a written proposal for your manager’s reference.
Written instead of winging it wins the boss over.
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