Any executive who has negotiated their own compensation appreciates that it can be stressful to make the case to be appropriately compensated. Whether they are being offered a new career opportunity or they are taking steps to ensure they continue to be paid fairly for the value they are delivering, knowing what to ask for (and accept) is a challenge.
Base salary, bonus, equity based compensation, vacation, medical benefits and the other standard executive compensation issues, while very important, are not what will be discussed here.
Your career is more than just about your ability to get the job done. You have grown throughout your career because you have continued to invest in improving yourself. Think about all the opportunities you had for growth throughout your career – conferences, training and others. All these things allowed you to not only improve yourself, but deliver significantly improved value to your employer.
Ask most executives, and they will admit that they have been beneficiaries of professional development expenses paid for by their current and previous employers. However, in 4 out of 5 times when I ask executives to go to their employer and ask them to pay for executive coaching, they balk. Why?
The reasons I am given, at first, is about budget. They almost always say “I don’t know if I can get that approved.” This response continues to concern me. Why would a strong, valuable executive be reluctant to ask for an investment in improving the value to their employer?
The real reasons I see are consistent across all types and sizes of companies. Asking for something can be stressful. Getting to yes, even with people you work for, can be a challenge, especially if it is not only about the company, but about you as well.
Fears of rejection, being looked at as being inadequate or not knowing what you should already know, as well as other fears, founded and unfounded, play into the difficulty of asking for approval of a professional development expense.
The answer to this challenge, which progressive companies are providing up front for their executives, is a Professional Development Spending Account(PDSA). The additional cost for such a program is usually negligible, since almost all companies, in theory, budget for training and development costs as a percentage of salaries.
A Professional Development Spending Account (PDSA) gives the choice to the executive. This allows them to choose the most appropriate professional development activities for their needs without having to ask for approval for each activity. Even better, companies can incorporate an assessment of the use of the PDSA in executive performance reviews. This process can assess how effective and relevant the executives were in spending these allocated dollars.
Retaining executives continues to be a challenge for a number of companies. Those organizations that invest smartly in the continued development of their executives will benefit greatly.
A PDSA (Professional Development Spending Account) is one perk that no executive should be without. If you don’t have one, ask for it. Let me know how it works out for you.
Samuel Dergel is a Principal with Dergel Executive Search. He is an executive search consultant, executive coach, blogger, speaker, trainer and author.
This blog originally appeared in LinkedIn Pulse