You’ve arrived home after yet another exhausting day at the office and promptly take up a slumped position on the beckoning couch. It is a behaviour that is fast becoming a routine. And it’s all due to being overworked and stressed as you struggle to meet the demands of your job. You know you need help, but how do you tell your employer that they need to expand the team?

Recruitment is an important step to growing a business so naturally it is a task generally left to your employer to initiate. Much thought often goes into the decision making process to recruit fresh blood into the ranks. Questions are asked; do we really need another staff member or can we reconfigure current job roles to cope with the influx of business? Is this boost in business temporary or sustainable? Can we afford another employee? Are staff working productively? Do we need more personnel, or will IT improve efficiencies? Needless to say, before you pitch management for an assistant, do your homework and prove the viability of a new hire as the best solution.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of busy times. A very good sign. When you ask your boss for a PA, they will naturally respond by asking if you have tried A, B and C as alternate solutions? If you have not looked at all the possibilities to appease the overwhelming nature of your job, then this is the point that you may look very silly and red faced, blowing your chance of getting the help you need. So do your homework. When you approach your manager you should have a list of potential options to help you manage your workload more effectively. You should also present evidence that highlights how additional assistance will benefit the company. For example, if you have spent most of your day responding to emails and not chasing sales leads, you may have lost a significant percentage of sales revenue for the week. So your pitch may go something along the lines of, “If I had an assistant to help manage the influx of emails, I could chase an additional 20 per cent of sales leads, effectively increasing my conversion rate by 12 per cent and add another five per cent to the company’s bottom line.” Demonstrating you have considered the issue and the potential gains, and allowing your boss to be a part of the resolution process, is a clever and strategic approach to not only creating a collaborative scenario, but getting the support you need to achieve your end goal.

Now that you have stated your case, succinctly, and potentially left your boss with a spreadsheet demonstrating the advantages of an assistant and how this fits with the department’s budget, it’s time to let your boss ponder the situation. This may mean being silent and letting them have their say, or allowing them time to consider your presentation before meeting up with you again later in the week. If they see logic in your request, chances are you will be successful in gaining the extra help you need to excel in your role. Don’t hound your boss for a decision though. Follow up at regular intervals and continue to gather your evidence on the financial viability of a new hire. If matters begin to draw out, bring the subject to the fore by making a time for a formal follow up meeting.

Timing can make or break your request for help. When pitching for a new recruit, dollar signs appear, so don’t do so if the company has announced a slump in the latest quarter results or your boss is critically busy with a ‘situation’. No, be smart and wait for a moment when they have the time to give you their full attention. And that’s not in the lunch room or while you’re passing one another in the hallway. It’s that space in both your calendars where you can formalise a meeting and have a one-on-one discussion in the privacy of their office.

At the end of the day, if you don’t get the thumbs up from your boss, don’t be disheartened. The seed is planted and it will only be a matter of time before they see golden opportunities go begging because you are too stretched. Focus on value adding activities is what they want to see, but in the short term, other projects may get priority. If you observe this to be the case, don’t let it stop you from making your presentation, you don’t want to wait until you are overwhelmed and exhausted before you discuss the expansion of your team. It is after all your manager’s role to ensure you have the resources you need to succeed.

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