How to Get Your Boss to Send You

 
 
Getting to 
Go
Working for one of those cretins who thinks that a symposium is a company-paid junket that's a waste of time and money for anyone but himself? How do you get around this kind of neanderthal? Kidnap his sliderule and ransom it for a signed travel req? Hang snakes in his cave? Poison his carrion? Switch his Viagra with Prozac? 
  
Getting through to these troglodytes is pretty difficult. I've had a lot of experience at it, not all successful, of course. Thus, some suggestions born of that experience. They will either get you to the symposium or get you fired, but if you work for one of these throwbacks, either outcome will be an improvement. 
 
Reason with him. Show him what an advantage it is for himself and the company. 
    Right. Sure. This should work. And afterward, you can go to your meeting of the Committee for World Peace Through Cultural Understanding and your lessons in conversational Esperanto.
Submit a paper. 
    Most companies have a formal policy that they will support symposium attendance if the employee has an accepted paper. I suspect that at least half of the papers submitted to the MTT Symposium are simply travel requisitions in another form. 
Check the Employee Manual 
    Strange as it may be in a world of corporate dysfunctionality, many companies actually have established policies for these things. I worked for one where the policy encouraged technical employees to attend at least one symposium a year. (Ah, those were the days!) Of course, most managers simply ignore company policy when it suits them to do so, but at least you can use this as a negotiating point. Many managers will give in, rather than show that they're too stupid to think up a good response. 
Don't ask permission. 
    Whatever you do, don't ask the boss beforehand for permission to submit a paper or to go to the symposium! Asking permission implies that it's reasonable for him to say no. Write the paper and fill out the company's publication-approval form, or fill out the travel request, and put it on his desk for signature. Act like approval is pro forma. Then, if he rejects it, he's on the defensive: it's harder to deny you something you've expected than to deny you something you've asked for. 
Get a job. 
    A job on the steering committee may be enough to get you there. After all, it looks really bad for the company if you are a visible member of the committee, but some idiot manager won't let you go to the symposium. 
Take a week's vacation and just go! 
    Yes, I know, it's the employer's responsibility to support professional development. But a lot of them just don't do it. It isn't the only, or even the worst, example of managerial "reneging" and hypocrisy. Most important is to attend the symposium; who pays for it is secondary. Don't miss out on the opportunity to improve your technical skills, to network, and to maintain your professional standing simply by being unwilling to spend a few hundred bucks. It needn't be expensive; this site will show you ways to minimize costs.
Always wear your parachute, and be sure everyone knows you might use it
    In the final analysis, your bargaining position comes from your value to the organization, not from your ability to politic, to bullshit, to make excuses, to create slick PowerPoint viewgraphs, to suck up, or to "dress for success." I firmly believe that your only security comes from insecurity. Make a damn good engineer of yourself, earn and expect respect and, if it's denied you, be ready to go where you'll get it. If you really do this right, you won't have to ask for permission to go to the MTT. You just drop off the travel request, expect it to be signed, and, dammit, it will be!