Want to Take on a BA Task? 3 Things Your Boss Needs to Hear You Say

We’ve discussed how building business analysis experience is how you show you have the BA mindset and crack the egg. You might be comfortable asking for permission later (and if you are, go to it!), but if not, building an experience starts with a big to do – talking to the boss.

For some reason, this feels like a difficult conversation. But it doesn’t have to be.

Learn how to stack the deck in your favor

This feels like a difficult conversation because there is a bit of fear that can surface on both sides. For you, the fear is that your boss might say “no” and what that means. For your boss, it’s trading something that’s working, even if it’s not working well, for an unknown and what that might mean about how she looks to her boss.

At the end of the day, it’s likely that your boss cares about a few key things and once she hears you confirm that her fears aren’t based in reality, then you are likely to get permission to take on a new task.

(Just watch out, because this can be a slippery slope…but a very good one if you want it to be!)

#1 – I’ll Continue to Fulfill My Day-to-Day Responsibilities.

Most of you have too much to do, not too little. So when you go to your boss asking to do something else, the logical assumption to be made is that you need your boss to take something off your to do list.

Do you?

If you don’t, you want to let her know why and how. How can you do something new and fulfill your existing responsibilities? Or, even better, how can you do this new task and fulfill your existing responsibilities better? If your boss hears this, she may not even need to hear the next two things. That’s how important it is.

Now, if you can’t honestly say this, then it helps to go in with a plan.

  • How do you propose to have your existing responsibilities fulfilled while you complete a new task?
  • Can you mentor someone more junior in your department?
  • Delegate to someone who has the time?
  • Get the new person to do it? (And, while I’m thinking of it, any time a new hire is being made is an excellent time to be proactive about shifting your role, as there is a new person waiting to take on the tasks you need to hand off to make your career goals possible.)
  • Complete the activity, just on a different schedule?

Yes, it’s your boss’s responsibility to ensure all the work gets done…but she’s done that by hiring you. Recognize that in your request you are creating more work for her, and help her sketch out an achievable, sensible plan.

#2 – I Can Do This.

While your boss typically has a good idea of your capabilities, it might be narrow or she might be missing windows into some of your special skills, particularly your business analysis skills.

Therefore, when she hears, “I want to try X,” she thinks, “I need to help you with X.”

But maybe you’ve got that covered. If you’ve found a book, an online resource, or a course to take on your own time, you may not need help with X, just permission to do X.

Alternatively, you may have found a mentor in your organization who has already taught you to do X or has committed the time. If any of this is the case, let your manager know so she doesn’t fill in your request with her own story about how she needs to support you.

Now, it may be that you don’t have this covered and do need your manager’s help. Recognize that this makes the request on her time a bit bigger and be ready to let her know exactly what help you need:

  • money for training,
  • review and feedback,
  • permission,
  • soliciting stakeholder involvement, etc.

The more specific you can be, the easier it will be for her to say “yes” as she isn’t committing to an ambiguous task.

#3 – This is Important Because ____.

While we already know that doing this task is important to you, why would it also be important to your boss? Does it help solve a problem, prepare for a new and bigger type of project that’s coming soon, or stand to make your department more reputable or efficient? The important thing here is to look at things from your boss’s perspective, not just your own, and ask what benefit you doing this task can have for your boss.

For example,

  • I know we’re hiring a new person to help with this task. When I first started, I made a series of mistakes that I didn’t need to make. If I document this business process, I can review it with the new person and help them be more successful right away.
  • Last time we did a project like this, we found several errors after the software was released. In fact, 15 customers called to complain! If I help organize user acceptance testing and detail out some test scenarios, I think we can cut that down significantly.
  • We’re consistently inconsistent and it’s causing confusion when new people work together. By documenting the process and reviewing it with the team, I can help us get on the same page, work more effectively, and work more consistently.

With these three communication points prepared, you are not guaranteed to get your boss’s blessing, but you are definitely stacking the decks in your favor. And those that consistently stack the decks in their favor eventually draw a Royal Flush.

Interested in learning more?

Click here to read how to be the one good things happen to << those happen to be my top 6 career management lessons.

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