I did a pretty revolutionary thing about a month ago: I asked for a perk at work. I’m absolutely terrible at asking for things at work, but I’m fortunate enough to have a boss who is a great advocate for me and makes sure I get compensated fairly. It’s a fantastic position to be in, but I realize that it’s not preparing me for the rest of my life, when I will surely deal with other bosses who are nowhere near as generous. The idea that excelling at your job should be enough to get raises and promotions is a naive one. In a large company where you’re one of thousands and you only see your boss once a week, nobody will know how great you are unless you tell them.
There are a lot of things going for me at my job:
- My boss sits next to me, so he knows what I’m up to and I can show him my work very frequently.
- He will brag about my accomplishments to management if he feels I’m not bragging enough for myself.
- I don’t have to ask for raises, he gives me one every year.
- He continually gives me opportunities to work on new types of projects and grow professionally.
But the one thing that had been going unnoticed, and therefore uncompensated, was the fact that over the past year or so I’ve been doing a lot more after-hours work out of the office. My boyfriend pointed out that if I’m taking calls and sending emails from my cell phone during nights and weekends, my phone should be paid for by the company. I knew he was right, but I also knew I wasn’t doing that much work on my phone, especially compared to the sales team, who are always on the road and using their cell phones for work. And because I wasn’t heavily using my phone for work, I thought that maybe it was a bit presumptuous to ask my boss if the company could pay for it.
It took about 3 weeks of prodding and several chickened-out-of-attempts to ask my boss before I finally told my boyfriend, “ok, I’ll do it today!” Turned out when I got into work that day, he wasn’t in the office yet, so I sent him an email. And he promptly responded telling me that he emailed finance about it and they’d have my phone moved over to the company plan immediately. Just like that. No discussion, no asking me for a usage report to prove that I’ve been doing work on my phone, he just said yes. I could have asked for this months ago and saved hundreds of dollars, but I was too afraid to ask for something because I wasn’t really sure if I deserved it or not.
June will be the first full month that my phone is on the company plan, and I’m oh so excited to have gotten rid of that pesky cell phone bill. I’m also proud that I finally asked for something, even if I chickened out a little and just did it by email. This small victory will make it that much easier for me to ask for things and be my own advocate in the future.
A couple lessons to take from this:
- You are your harshest critic. If you’re not sure if you really deserve something, ask someone you trust if they think you deserve it. They’ll help you evaluate what criteria your boss will probably use to determine if you deserve it.
- If you’re too timid to ask for something face to face, send an email. But be prepared to have a face to face conversation following the email. You’ll probably find that once you’ve sent the email, all your fears and self doubt will evaporate.