We’ve all heard about the great workplace exodus. Over the last two years, millions of people have quit their jobs in favor of doing something different. You too may have realized that you want something different from life and work.
Despite wanting something different, you may find it difficult to make those requests at work. You may be worried that if you ask for what you want, you’ll be fired before you’re ready to leave, or you’ll be seen as disloyal and unreliable, and thus not promotable. Many people suffer in silence fearing that speaking up will get them ‘in trouble.’
Regardless of your concerns, you aren’t likely to get what you don’t ask for. So how do you ask?
Here are five steps to ask for what you want at work:
- Become very clear about what you need and want. Don’t have a conversation with your manager that sounds like a conversation with a friend. “I don’t know what I want. I just know it isn’t this.”
- Lead with your intentions. Difficult conversations are easier when we start the conversation with our intention. “I really love this company and I want to stay here.”
- Then make a clear ask. “I’ve realized over the past two years that I really want to be doing ____________. I’m wondering if there is an opportunity to do that kind of work here?” Or, “I’ve realized that I really want to live in __________” Or, I’ve realized that I really want to work a flexible schedule.”
- Create a plan. “Can we make a plan to move me to ___________ department or role in next 12 months?” Or, “Can we make a plan to make that happen in the next 12 months?”
- Don’t give ultimatums. No one likes to be forced. Negotiate a realistic time period to make your desired changes. Saying “I need this, or I have to leave now” isn’t likely to produce the result you’re looking for. “What’s a realistic time period to make this transition?” is better.
You can make requests as I’ve suggested and still not get what you want. Then you have decisions to make. But you are unlikely to get what you don’t ask for. Asking for what you want, in a professional way, is better than leaving, never knowing if your needs could have been negotiated.