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.
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.
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:
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.