Episode 41: Ask for what you need at work


July 21st, 2020

26 mins 30 secs

Your Hosts

About this Episode

We recorded this episode to help people ask for what they need at work, without also feeling like they are asking for too much, impairing their career, or being high maintenance.

We start with the request, which we hear coming up quite a bit, to continue to work from home because of health or childcare concerns with the virus when your company wants you to come back to the office. Many companies are built around having junior employees learning from more senior ones, and the expecation in many companies have been that employees will return as soon as they think conditions are safe enough. Of course, there are some jobs that can’t be done from home (service and healthcare, as well as anybody that has to work with people (food service, healthcare) or making or moving physical things.

Here are some tips:

  • Be clear on what you are asking for.
  • Go directly to your boss and state the honest facts, being as flexible as possible.
  • Show you’re bending to accommodate as much as possible
  • Tell them your plan: for example, how you are going to get your work done, showing any anticipated problems and your solutions to them.
  • Don’t rely on your boss to come up with solutions.

Bosses: if you are managing a team that is coming back to the office, you can anticipate who will have issues and talk to them 1:1 to talk about their situations.

If the accommodation is around health issues, you may need to share your personal situation with them, like a compromised immune system, to explain why you need to stay home. If you are doing great work in quarantine, your need to stay home will like not be an issue. Sharing this may feel private. It may take vulnerability.

If you are interviewing and need to ask for anythijng, even when we're not ijn a pandemic, what should you do?

Bring your strengths and flexibility into the beginning part of the process, and have the conversation about accommodations you want or need. Once a company has expressed interest, you should talk with the recruiter and tell them what you need (whether it’s a vacation, a standing desk, or anything else). Then keep talking about moving forward and express your interest.

You have to read the room, though. You don't want the hiring manager and recruiter to feel like you've held back an important fact. For instance, if you have a vacation trip planned in a few months, and it turns out that's a time when they're going to need you at work and not on vacatio, you may need to call it out earlier in the process. on and if they are going to need you at the time you’re gone, you may need to call it out earlier.

Here's how you ask for something you need at work . We call it "the golden rule of requests":

This the problem.
This is what I need.
And this is how I’m going to hande any issues that come up.