Tips For Having a Career Conversation With Your Manager

Is your career on the right path? Here’s how to have a career conversation with your manager to achieve your professional goals.
career conversation with manager

Is your career on the right path? Moving forward in your professional journey often involves a series of crucial conversations, and one stands out for its potential to alter trajectories and redefine visions: the career conversation with your manager.

For many, even the thought of this “talk” can be intimidating. Yet, it remains a critical step for anyone seeking career growth, clarity, or a change in their professional life. So, how do you have a productive career conversation with your boss? Let’s unravel this approach.

How to Start a Career Conversation With Your Manager

Undoubtedly, your manager’s role is critical in shaping your career progress. So, when it comes to initiating a career conversation with them, how do you get the ball rolling? Here are some tips to help you start the dialogue:

1. Self-reflection and preparation

Before diving into the talk, you should have a clear understanding of where you stand and where you want to go.

  • Define Your Desires: What do you want in your career? More responsibilities? A shift to a different department? Training in a new area?
  • Acknowledge Your Achievements: This is the time to pat yourself on the back. What have you achieved since the last appraisal or conversation?
  • Identify Areas of Growth: In which areas do you think you can enhance your skills?

2. Schedule the conversation.

It’s not recommended to spring up such a crucial topic impromptu. Schedule a meeting with your manager, and let them know the agenda so they can be equally prepared.

3. Approach with positivity.

Starting the conversation on a positive note sets the tone for the entire discussion. Express gratitude for the opportunity to discuss your career. This shows that you are engaged and committed to mutual growth.

4. Use the STAR technique.

While discussing specific instances, use the STAR technique – Situation, Task, Action, and Result. This method allows you to present information in a structured and impactful manner. 

For example, “In my previous project, I was tasked with managing a team of five people (Situation). To ensure efficient teamwork and timely delivery (Task), I implemented weekly check-ins and delegated tasks based on individual strengths (Action). This resulted in a successful project completion within the given deadline and positive feedback from both clients and team members (Result).”

5. Be open to feedback.

Your manager might have a different perspective. Listen actively, understand their viewpoint, and don’t get defensive. Remember, this is a dialogue, not a monologue.

6. Discuss and set clear objectives.

Once you have laid out your career aspirations, discuss and set clear goals with your manager. These objectives will serve as the roadmap for the next steps in your career journey. Such goals should be SMART — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Remember, this is a chance to align your goals with your manager’s expectations, identify areas for growth, and take steps toward fulfilling your career plans. Approach the conversation with confidence, preparation, and an open mind.

Dos and Don’ts of Career Conversations With a Manager

As with any crucial conversation, there are certain dos and don’ts to remember when discussing your career with your boss to increase your success rate.

Do:

  1. Do Prepare Thoroughly: Take time to reflect on your career goals, accomplishments, and areas for growth before the talk.
  2. Do Set an Agenda: Clearly communicate the purpose and topics you want to cover during the conversation to ensure it stays on track.
  3. Do Listen Actively: Give your manager your full attention and show that you value their input and feedback.
  4. Do Be Specific: Provide concrete examples of your achievements and areas where you’d like to grow or take on more responsibility.
  5. Do Follow-Up: After the conversation, send a follow-up email summarizing key points and action items to ensure clarity and accountability.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t Blindside Your Manager: Avoid surprising your manager with career-related issues during an unrelated discussion. Schedule a dedicated meeting.
  2. Don’t Make It All About You: While it’s important to express your aspirations, also consider how your goals align with the company’s objectives.
  3. Don’t Get Defensive: If your manager offers constructive criticism or disagrees with your ideas, don’t become defensive. Instead, seek to understand their perspective.
  4. Don’t Assume Immediate Results: Understand that not all changes or promotions will happen right after the conversation. Be patient and work toward your goals.

Having a career conversation with your manager can be a game-changer. It can help bridge gaps, align visions, and create a roadmap for success. With preparation, clarity, and the right approach, it can pave the way for a bright and fulfilling professional journey.

At the end of the day, remember that this conversation is as much about your growth as it is about the organization’s. So, the next time you find yourself pondering how to have a career conversation with your manager, take a deep breath, prepare, and dive in. Your future self will thank you.

 

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