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Tips for Discussing Career Goals With Your Boss

Discussing your career goals with your supervisor can be intimidating. After all, you don’t want your boss to think you are looking for another job or trying to take over their position. However, this is an important conversation to have, and with the right approach everybody wins.

Here are five best practices to follow.

  1. Set Up a Meeting in Advance
    Even at best, your appeal for career advice may seem surprising, especially if your organization doesn’t have a development program in place. Therefore, don’t spring this discussion on your manager without warning. Give them a heads-up and schedule a time where you can sit down and have a meaningful chat.
  2. Frame Your Request in a Positive Way 
    Someday you may work for another company or someday you may advance within your own. But, for now, you want to improve and grow where you are. Make your intentions clear, so your boss doesn’t think you are looking for special favors, attempting to job hop to a bigger paycheck or hoping to score an easy promotion. Be tactful and sincere in your wish for guidance. You are striving to build your abilities in your current position which, ultimately, will benefit your organization
  1. Do Your Homework 
    Managers are busy people, and you are asking for a favor. Don’t waste your boss’s time by arriving unprepared. Write down what you are hoping to achieve as well as ways you intend to meet your goals. Also, find out about any upcoming projects or initiatives you may become involved with to stretch your skill set.
  1. Keep an Open Mind
    Although you may come to the meeting with a plan in place, your supervisor may recognize potential pitfalls or point out opportunities you failed to identify. Don’t become defensive if their ideas don’t match with yours. At the very least, consider any recommendations. Their experience and their expertise should offer a better and more balanced perspective. That’s why you asked for their advice.
  2. Follow Up
    Career goals are ongoing, and your meetings should be too. Document a plan and schedule quarterly or biannual check-ins to update your progress and set new benchmarks. Finally, remember to say, “Thank you!” with a quick note, email or text. If your manager is accommodating and supportive, make sure they know you genuinely appreciate their time and effort.

Hopefully, your boss will be happy to advise and support you with your career goals, and you both will benefit from the positive results. Unfortunately, you may run into a supervisor who is uncooperative and unhelpful. Don’t take this personally. However, do take it as a sign you may need to explore other opportunities if you wish to grow.

Are You Looking For More Career Advice?
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