Are you thinking of kick-starting your career change by asking your manager for fewer or different hours? Less time tied up in your day job makes space for reviewing your current career and exploring new options. Suddenly it’s possible to work shadow, volunteer, launch your side project. You’ll be set to test a heap of scary, exciting possibilities at the edge of your career change comfort zone.
Whether moving from ‘fixed to flexible’ is a step en route to a totally new career or a way to revitalise work, you’ll need to negotiate like a boss.
Here’s how that works.
Check the rules
First up, confirm what you can and can’t negotiate. Check your company’s policy and procedures around flexible working conditions. What are the rules and precedents for part-time hours, early starts and late finishes? What’s the policy on job sharing and working from home? Is flexibility offered in your team and at your level?
Read the documents, talk to someone in Human Resources, ask flexibly employed colleagues how it’s going.
If there are no barriers to progress make a plan.
Run the numbers
Fear of financial ruin can skew your view of what’s doable with fewer or different resources. If you’re struggling to talk sense to the money monster in your head, start by doing a ruthless budget. These 4 ways to fund career change transition will help you review your finances, and figure out exactly what you need in the bank each month and how you might do more with less.
If starting a side project is part of your plan, try to take account of your set up costs. Then estimate how much you’ll need to earn to make it viable.
Separate your needs from your wants
Ideally, you’ll negotiate everything you need and some of what you want. Separate your ‘must haves’ and ‘maybes’ for hours, responsibilities and salary.
Hours - how many do you need and when and where can you work them?
Responsibilities - How might you refine or reduce your workload?
Which bits of your job could you do off-site or outside working hours?
What could be shifted to someone else
Salary – Can you negotiate outside of an hourly or pro rata payment? Are there allowances or bonuses you can bid for?
Anticipate your manager’s reaction
What problems can you solve by working flexibly? Will it free up scarce office space, provide out of hours back up or create opportunities for other staff?
Write a plan for you and a proposal for them
If you’ve done due diligence on the money monster, your ‘must haves’ and your ‘maybes’, you’ll have the basis for a solid plan. This will help you stay clear and confident during the trickiest of negotiation
Your proposal will make your employers an offer they’ll find tough to refuse. Email it to your manager, with a request to meet.
Cover these things:
A compelling reason why you want to work flexibly
How up front you are depends on your relationship with your manager and your company’s culture. Be as direct as you can about struggling to meet out of work commitments or needing time and energy to pursue a new project.
A clear explanation of the benefits for your employer
If your relationship is solid, explain how your high performance will be stellar when you’re less stressed. Offer to mentor staff that could take on some of your current responsibilities.
If a more nuts and bolts approach could appeal, stress how much work you’ll get done in the two hours you currently spend commuting if you work from home instead. If you’re offering to work evenings or early mornings or trading weekdays for weekends, sell the benefits of being available when no one else is.
A set of milestones for measuring the success of the arrangement
Propose a weekly virtual or face-to-face catch up to check your progress. Nominate specific projects you plan to complete in a month long trial period.
If you’re proposing to work from home, include all the above plus proof that you’re suitably organised and equipped to work remotely. Propose a schedule and a method for communicating with managers, colleagues, and clients
Choose your moment
Pick a meeting time when your boss is likely to be relaxed and receptive to your plan. Align this with a moment when you’ve achieved something notable that proves how valuable you are.
Besides picking your personal best time, make your move outside of stressful times for your organisation. For example, a spate of resignations, the start of the busy season, or a hefty period of tendering and reporting are all contraindicated.
Avoid the pitfalls
Beware of committing to do your identical full time job in fewer hours. This is a terrible, energy sapping deal that won’t work for anybody.
A savvy plan and a convincing proposal will show that you’re aiming to change more than your hours. Show your employer how rebalancing or shifting your focus will enhance, not reduce your value to them.
Deal with a knockback
If you don’t succeed, at least your manager now knows that you’re looking to change things. Suggest that you meet again in three months to review what’s possible and keep up your peak performance.
However, if work turns seriously sour, here’s how to survive in a job that sucks while you plan your next move.
By Jo Green, Career Change Coach
I know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!
As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.
Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.