So here they are … 7 ways to persuade your boss to give you some product management training.
1. Just ask
Let’s face it, your boss is busy. They have lots of important things competing for their attention. Asking about product management training may seem a pretty low priority and not something you’d want to trouble them with.
Well, guess what, your career is pretty important as well.
Why wouldn’t your boss be pleased if you want to improve yourself and do a better job? It makes you look good by asking and it can’t hurt to get the subject on the agenda. You may just get an easy ‘yes’.
2. Explain that ‘learning-on-the-job’ is over-rated
Because product management is done differently from company to company there’s no commonly agreed skill set. So there’s an assumption that anyone smart can pick it up and the best way is by ‘learning-on-the-job’.
Whilst it does work it’s not the only way and possibly, dare I say it, not even the best way.
Trial and error is a poor way to learn about product management. And it’s certainly not the most efficient use of company resources. There are tools, templates, checklists and best practice available. They will make you much more effective much more quickly.
3. Argue that it’s got a great payback
Many companies claim their greatest asset is their people. Yet spending money on improving their skills can be subject to closer scrutiny than other areas of spending. This is largely because it’s discretionary and also because it’s tough to justify the urgency of any product management training.
Whilst we think that trying to measure the ROI (Return on Investment) of product management training is virtually impossible we’ve no doubt that it’s positive. Think of the impact on the business of decisions you make every day. You spend resources on projects and kick off activities that impact revenue and profitability. Even a small improvement to decision making justifies the cost of training. See our Training Product Management Journal article (Justification – ROI and other models) for more details.
4. Tell them plagiarism is a good thing!
I know that’s not what they taught you at school however in the world of business the rules change. Why wouldn’t you pinch a great idea from another part of your company? Why wouldn’t you copy a good feature from a competitor’s product? So why not pick up the best ideas on how to do product management on a training course?
When attending a public course with other product managers from the same industry you’ll get real value from hearing how things get done in other companies. The class discussions on topics are also fascinating and you’ll get a chance to ask your ‘burning’ questions. It provides a great opportunity to see how other people do product management and learn what works well.
5. Show that it will make their life easier
Hopefully you will come back from a course bursting with enthusiasm and keen to put into practice all the good things you‘ve learned. This should make life easier for your boss as you take on more responsibility, input lots of good ideas and have a more rounded view of the world.
6. Help them see the big picture
When we start in product management we’re usually focused on one particular part of the product lifecycle. We’re working on a launch, gathering requirements or doing a pricing refresh. It’s not until many years of experience that we can look back and see where all the different bits we’ve done fit into the bigger product management role.
It’s easier for senior management as they automatically get more of a helicopter view. But understanding the big picture is also an important part of your role. It’s essential that product managers have a balanced, objective, 360 degree view for their product when making or recommending decisions. You can’t do this without understanding the bigger picture and where what you’re currently doing fits into the overall scheme of things.
Going on a product management training course is a great way of understanding this context and building the self-confidence that it brings
7. Explain it’s good for the company and your boss
It’s good on a number of levels. It will make the company more successful – better product management means the company makes or saves more money.
It will make your boss look better. A high performing team reflects well on their manager. Just being seen to want to improve performance by sponsoring employees to attend training is a positive step. Promoting some of the great ideas you come back with from a training course will show that they have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in product management.
Director, Product Focus
P.S. and if you want some more ideas why not have a look through our Product Management Journal on Training.