Should I tell my boss about my study plans?

Friday July 19 2019

Moses Ssesanga

Moses Ssesanga 

By Moses Ssesanga

Do I have to tell my boss that I am applying for a scholarship to go study abroad or should I wait to see if my application is successful before I reveal my future plans? If I get the scholarship, I will be leaving at the end of the this year- Prossy

Dear Prossy,
I will start with a quote from leadership writer, John C Maxwell, “The difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next. The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing.”

In the past, employees could take a ‘sit and wait’ approach to their career development. However in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, career development is more like the employee taking the lead on deciding where they want to go and how they’re going to get there.
Career development is a personal decision. The employer can only facilitate that growth and as much as possible provide the needed support at the different defining points in the employee’s career journey.

From your question, it’s clear that you haven’t yet had an opportunity for a career conversation with your boss. That’s very unfortunate though common in organisations. Employers rarely hold engaging career conversations with the people they lead. They get surprised and panic, when key employees announce new career moves outside the business. Then its firefighting trying to convince them to stay with promises or begin to share plans they had for them, and by then it’s usually too late.

Since you haven’t yet shared your career plans with your employer, it’s important that you find a mentor who has your best interests at heart with no underlying agenda, and share your career plans for validation. Eventually, you will have to engage your boss in a career conversation, but that should be at the end rather than the beginning.

Moses Ssesanga
Head Human Resource
NMG - Uganda