Professional Development Tuition Reimbursement

$$$.jpgGood or bad?

Have you ever thought about the pluses and minuses?

I was looking for an email address and found myself down a rabbit hole that led to this post. I hope you enjoy it.

One of my evangelists referred a co-worker (VP) to me in the summer of 2012. Joe, the referred VP, sent me this email on 9/1/2012 after we spoke.

Hi Rick - as I put together some details to my boss around our training a couple questions that occurred to me:

  • you said we have two 15 min calls/week but essentially can schedule a call anytime.  Do you see the training program as having any other elements?  e.g. formal training classes and/or materials?  If so please let me know the format and timing for these.
  • is there any sort of certification or completion letter I can receive at some point?  This will be required as I'm considering my company's tuition reimbursement program.
thank you,

I replied.

Two questions.
First, how do you think that (Mike, Jerry and George) would get your boss to approve the expense?
Second, why would I want to work with anyone that only wants to work with me if somebody else pays for it?
Let's cancel Tuesday's call because you won't get this done by then. If your boss wants to call me, give him the link to my calendar and my number.
He replied again and I replied in line. Here's the combination.
On Sun, Sep 2, 2012 at 12:42 PM, Joe <> wrote:
Rick - very interesting email.  I am sure you knew what reaction it would provoke from me and I like that you're stressing a couple of deficiencies identified in my evaluation.  I'm trying to think how I should respond differently than I normally would.  Not sure I've got it yet. Like most intelligent entrepreneurs, you tend want it now. That's not a criticism. You just expect to learn quickly because intellectually, you usually do. However, deep seated, more personal, emotional stuff can take a long time and require several different approaches as well as repetition. I replied via email rather than verbally, so that you could read it twice, see it and think about what I was doing to you and how it made you feel. It's the beginning. Eventually, you'll see it, get it and be able to react instantaneously. (Which is, after all, what you said that you saw in Mike, Jerry and George and wanted me to develop in you.
I'm guessing Mike/Jerry/George would make an argument to my boss about how this training would help them achieve the goals the company has set for them and lay out a plan for tracking to micro-goals along the way.  True?  Not exactly. My hope is that they would help your boss come up with the idea.
Your second question isn't accurate as I did not imply that I would only do the training if my company were to pay for it.  Let me be clear: I'd like to get your coaching and pay the entire amount if necessary.
However if my company can subsidize the training I would be foolish not to look into it, don't you think so?  Indeed, my question even has implications on my claiming a tax deduction, which again seems prudent to consider.  Neither question says how committed I am to your training but merely shows my considering various financial avenues open to me.  Here's the issue. This is not a course. There will be no graduation or diploma. In my experience, you will go through 4 steps.
  1. It's impossible.
  2. It's possible.
  3. It's probable.
  4. It's automatic.
Somewhere in the probable step, you'll probably realize that you don't need me any more. That's graduation. If you don't tell me before it's automatic, I'll tell you and you'll agree.
So, how do we justify the expense? Is your income affected if/when you attain/exceed your goals? Does that justify the expense?
Should you and your boss agree that if you reach a specific goal you'll be reimbursed?
Will your boss allow you to pay me with pre-tax dollars? (i.e. - you pay me with a company credit card and it's deducted from your salary?
I will cancel the Tuesday call.
One last thing. Last night I watched the most recent Rookie Blue episode. One of the rookies was asked if they were ever pepper-sprayed. They answered, "Yes." When asked, why, they replied that it was an exercise to see if they could be pepper-sprayed and still perform their duties. When asked if it was painful, they replied extremely painful.
Training teaches you stuff, intellectually. You will be uncomfortable most of the time that you're dealing with me and when you are very uncomfortable, it will be because I've just asked you to take a major step.
Sorry, just one final point. I do want to work with you. I work with you and it helps you, but it also helps Mike and what helps Mike, helps others that I care about. However, regardless of the people that are helped downstream, I'm not interested in marginal. I want you to rock the world.
Just tell me when to send an invoice.
That's the end of the 2012 exchange. Joe hired me the next day and we worked together for 5 months. He's now the CEO/Founder of a cool startup. It was his email address I was looking for when I found this email that he sent last April. (4 years after we worked together)
You probably have an opinion, but I suggest that if an employee gets pre-approval, it MIGHT affect their level of commitment and their level of commitment WILL affect their results. However, if they know that their own money is at risk, they will either commit 100% or they will say not commit at all. It would probably be better if companies said, "We have a professional development tuition reimbursement program. No pre-approvals will be available. Post approval can be had after completion and after employee applies for reimbursement explaining why and how the investment benefited the company."
I think I'll write about the other thing he remembered next.

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