If you are fortunate enough to have a boss who shows an interest in your career development, do not waste the opportunity. I know folks who froze up when their boss asked them what they wanted next. Like most people, you are in a role that you do not particularly like and have not given much thought to what would make it better.
"Taking control of your own growth means taking control of your own feedback.”—Cameron Elliot
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” — Babe Ruth
Always be on the lookout for learning feedback. Seeking learning feedback is the most meaningful activity you can do to find purpose and fulfillment at work. It would be best if you discovered your micro-motives; be open to opportunities and see them; develop strategies to build your talent stack to capitalize on the opening, and do not get too focused on the destination. Enjoy the journey. With learning feedback, you will see opportunities that you never dreamed were possible.
Feedback, when accepted, is a powerful influence on learning and achievement. Feedback is a gift — a tool for growth! However, all often we see it as a tool for discipline or to get one’s way. Developing a growth mindset where you see at all feedback as learning feedback is hugely beneficial.
“If we did all the things, we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.” — Thomas A. Edison
Even if you do not like current your job as it is, the fact that your boss has an interest in your next step is a positive sign. Build on their offer of support to improve your situation. At the very least, you may like your job better, and you may even refashion your role into something you love. Have a look at my earlier insight, How To Make A Career Pivot Without Leaving Your Organization.
First, thank them enthusiastically for offering to help you. Not every boss provides this support. So, they are going above and beyond. After showing due appreciation, here are some questions to ask your boss when they offer to help your career:
What would you recommend for me?
Ideally, you have your ideas. Prepare a few plans to share during your discussion. However, do not be so quick to roll out your comprehensive wish list. It is likely that the feedback you get from your boss will change what you end up asking for in the long term. You may only be focusing on other roles within your group. However, your boss knows about opportunities in the various parts of the organization, subsidiaries, cross-functionally, or even abroad. You may just be thinking about promotion. Your boss may know of some lateral moves which might be more suitable or enjoyable. Today’s world has evolved from climbing the corporate ladder to climbing the corporate lattice.
Whom should I know?
In addition to thinking about the next steps, you can take – e.g., responsibilities, projects. Your development strategy needs to include expanding your network and your visibility. Ideally, you have identified specific groups or people where you would like to gain more exposure. Your manager will be able to build on your list and recommend you on how best to proceed.
What keeps you up at night?
Your manager will appreciate it when you show an interest in helping them. This question is also getting insight into issues, goals, or projects that your boss might not have shared in team meetings. Gaining a deeper understanding of critical organizational goals and those of your immediate supervisor can help you prioritize your work better. If you aspire to management, knowing the expectations of your boss gives you a heads-up on the types of issues, you may face in the future.
We encourage people to use our ladder of leadership coaching. We show you how your behavioural competencies match with high-performing leaders at all levels. It is essential to understand the required skills and those you need to leave behind as you climb the corporate ladder. When you have the full view, you can better plan your career trajectory. Interestingly some people have the requisite traits to be an excellent CEO; however, they will only be considered a mediocre manager. With this insight, you can develop a better plan and seek the right opportunities to build your talent stack.
What do you think of [INSERT THE DESIRED PROJECT/ CLIENT]?
When you do share your wish list, formulate your request so that it leaves an opening for your boss to share his/her insights. You then can shape your plan accordingly. Of course, you should do your research into upcoming projects (or clients you wish to serve), what these projects involve, and how you might get considered. Doing your advance work shows your boss that you are genuinely interested and have already done some of the foundational preparatory work.
However, a supportive boss can supply nuance into projects that can mean the difference between getting on an excellent project team or landing in a minefield. Your manager will likely have nuance regarding the decision-making process. This insight can mean the difference between getting what you want and not.
What is the best next step for [ADD DESIRED ROLE]?
Instead of or in addition to specific projects, you might have a role in mind — e.g., to manage direct reports or a team, to lead a project, to have profit/loss responsibility. A new position is likely to be a multi-step process. Moreover, you may need to develop more skills or get visibility with other decision-makers to make this happen. A supportive manager will be able to outline the process for you. You will gain insight regarding where you are in that process.
Your manager can assist you in getting the resources to close any gaps that may exist in your talent stack and what the new role may need. They will pay for classes or coaching. Maybe they’ll sponsor you for company mentorship programs or leadership training. On the other hand, they will give you an opportunity to present at an upcoming leadership meeting, giving you visibility in front of other decision-makers.
What Should I Do If They Do Not Offer Advice?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” —Milton Berle
When it comes to nurturing and developing your career, there is only one person that you can count on — YOU!
While it can be beneficial to have a trusted mentor, however, it is not a given that your boss or current manager wants the role. Many managers will not be as invested in your personal career growth as they are in the organization’s success. Thus, the organization’s needs and not your own needs influence the advice and mentoring they offer to you. However, it is reasonable for you to expect to get some feedback.
To make sure you are making the most of their guidance, here are five basic but direct questions that you can ask your manager:
Can I have an annual review?
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” — Albert Einstein
While some organizations offer employees an annual review, others do not. However, if you ask for a review, your manager is not likely to refuse you. This process is an excellent way to receive learning feedback on your performance, set goals and set up benchmarks for salary increases and promotions. Remember, take the input as learning feedback, as described above.
You can create an action plan and regular check-ins, so the learning feedback becomes more frequent than annually.
Can we work on my career plan together?
Ask your manager early on for help in making your career plan. If your boss understands your career goals, having helped you set them, they can support you in reaching them. Having a career plan is a broad, more substantial project that will ease the more specific questions that follow.
What new skills or knowledge do you recommend that I develop to be more effective?
If you hope to progress along your career path this question is essential. Your manager is the best person to tell you precisely the skills you need to develop, to perform better in your current role and to advance as well.
Can you give me some feedback on ________?
Asking for learning feedback is a sure way to receive constructive input and positive reinforcement. Both types of feedback will help your career, overall. Asking for ongoing feedback and support will keep the lines of communication open between you and your manager. It also shows your maturity.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
It is not always about you! Knowing your boss’ goals will help you do two things:
- firstly, it will help you understand how to be more valuable to your boss — this insight never hurts your career
- secondly, understanding your boss’ goals offers you a more global understanding of the organization’s goals in general
The key to developing perspective and maturity is keeping the “big picture” in mind and knowing where you fit in.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” — George Eliot
Turning your boss’ offer of career help into more questions for them is not about shirking your responsibility to manage your career. It is good to have an insightful partner. You need a quick wish list to make the most of the above questions.
When you give your boss the opportunity to help you shape and refine your next career moves, you engage them even more deeply into supporting you. You will want this ongoing support whether you stay in your current group or move onward.
When you do move on, stay in touch with the people who helped you along the way. They will continue to be a source of insights — a colleague you can trust. Moreover, you may be able to return the favour of supplying insight that helps them.
Challenge — What's Right For You?
Solution = Leverage Your Talent Stack + Build Your Career Capital
Identify your unique behavioural strengths, build your career capital and leverage your unique talent stack for lifetime success.
- Grow your leadership potential by targeting your critical developmental needs
- Determine your crucial career success factors, allowing for more focused efforts
- Discover your best and most successful career direction
- Find out about your strengths and interests in different career areas
Knowing yourself is the first step to being happy. Moreover, staying happy is an ongoing process of regrounding your long-term goals with your current objectives. When those align, you’re on the path to a job you can adore. Know when to find a better job as your best option may be to fall in love with your job (again) We also offer a personal development plan to help you achieve career success and satisfaction.Let’s Talk!