Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Why You Need To Self-Advocate

Published on January 10, 2022

Whatever your objectives – high–profile client projects, professional development or a promotion or pay raise – they won’t always land in your lap. You need to self-advocate for your goals with a compelling and confident ask. Yet, voicing what you need is often easier said than done (especially for women and underrepresented groups).

With preparation, the difficulty of self-advocating is well–worth the potential outcome. You can begin taking more control of your advancement and success.
Here are some ways to advocate for yourself and be closer to achieving your goals.

1. Set The Stage

Find a designated time and space to discuss your objectives with your manager. Popping in or tacking on surprise requests at the end of another meeting, particularly if you anticipate a delicate conversation, can work against you. Schedule a separate time (or request additional time for an existing meeting), letting your manager know in advance what you’d like to discuss and providing any supporting materials that will help them prepare.

2. Build Your Case

Put yourself in your manager’s shoes: business decisions are tied to goals and informed by data. Create clear ties between your work and organizational impact that support why you deserve your ask and why granting it is good for both you and the company. For example:

  • Is a particular leadership challenge or skills gap inhibiting you or your team from maximizing potential? Frame requests for executive coaching, training and certification programs as a win-win. The investment will enable you to perform more effectively. Research the services/programs you seek and frame them as the solution to the problem.
  • When you want to stop getting passed over to lead plum projects, prepare to pitch your record of success on other relevant work, the fresh perspective you bring as well as the importance of developing new leaders internally.
  • When an opportunity for promotion becomes available, connect the dots between the needs of the position and your abilities. Focus on what makes you the best fit for the role. Think about what the company needs from the position and formulate key points on how you will not only meet them but exceed expectations in doing so.

3. Plan Next Steps

An initial conversation is an important first step, but likely not the last meeting required to achieve your goals. Use the opportunity to articulate what you want and why you deserve or need it, while gathering information about options, roadblocks or attitudes. Aim for informational transparency as you collaborate on an action plan to move forward. Schedule a follow-up meeting, put next steps in writing and set a timeline for accountability.

Those who perform well quietly often go unnoticed versus those who self-advocate. Allowing others to pass you by for great projects, promotions, salary bumps etc. — not necessarily out of merit, but because they better market their achievements and goals — isn’t good for your morale or job satisfaction.

Change does not happen on its own. Self-advocacy can feel uncomfortable to start, but you owe it to yourself (and your colleagues) to try. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen? If you attempt and don’t succeed, at least you’ll have gained information and self-confidence, instead of assuming outcomes or letting fear of reprisal hold you back.

Struggling to convey your value and advocate for yourself? We can help.

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