Seal The Deal: How To Get Buy-In From Your Boss


Whether you’re considering an MBA, or you’ve already started the admissions process, getting buy-in from your boss can sometimes be a difficult conversation to have, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And if you’re like some of our current Booth students and alumni who have already gone through the process, you may be preparing to have the conversation about getting your MBA. Feeling lost with where to begin? You’re in luck—hear from some of our current students and alumni on how to get buy-in from your boss.

Cultivate relationship with your boss prior to asking for support.

Nobody goes out of their way to morally support someone they don't know. This is also important because, from my experience, companies can become fearful if they think that you are pursuing your MBA so that you can leave at some point in the near future. It's important that they understand who you are and what you're hoping to gain in life.”

Kandace Barker | Evening MBA student

Start with an open conversation. Identifying your goals and how they match with company direction is crucial.

Gaining my boss's support started with an open conversation about my goals and where the company was going. An MBA was not required to move up in our company, so articulating how it fit with both my goals and our organization's direction was key! When we discussed how Booth's part-time program would enable me to meet both personal goals and corporate commitments, it sealed the deal.” 

Meghan Collins | Weekend MBA 2014

I created a 'Chicago Booth MBA' packet that outlined my short and long term goals with my firm, the skills I would develop by obtaining a Chicago Booth MBA, and the ways these skills would help me achieve my goals. Then I had a brief 15-20 minute conversation with her to go over the items I outlined and to explain how the firm would benefit from the knowledge I would gain at Chicago Booth. She was very interested to learn more about Chicago Booth's program and provided her full support!"

Don Massoni | Weekend MBA student

Manage expectations up front to establish trust.

You have to spend time informing your boss about the program, what you hope to achieve, how much time it will take, etc... It’s also important to clearly outline the implications on your work and have them align on that in advance. For me, this meant creating a deck that talked about these things and setting up time to talk about the fact that I would have to leave work at 5 p.m. two days a week. I put this on their calendar too so that every time I had class they had an alert. Eventually, this fell off the calendar. But initially, it helped them to ensure they weren't giving me tasks that needed to be completed quickly on days that I had to leave for class.”  

Kandace Barker | Evening MBA student

Discuss options.

Like me, you might find that you need flexibility in your schedule, work assignments and program support in addition to buy-in from management. For me that meant working reasonable hours and having the inability to travel frequently.  My responsibilities did not entail much travel, so that wasn’t a big change.  However, I wanted to make sure my management team supported my commitment to the program and understood that I would not always be available outside of regular working hours.  My challenge was to convince management that my performance would not suffer under these circumstances.”

Manette Wete | Evening MBA student

Bring your boss along for the journey.

Give them updates about what you're learning, what you find interesting or even what you think they might be interested in. You have to continue to make them feel like they are on the journey with you.”

Kandace Barker | Evening MBA