Making Career Development Conversations Less Scary

As a career coach, I work with people to help them get unstuck for a role or career that is unfulfilling and find something that brings them joy and success.  But here’s a secret.   I’m not the only person that can help with that.  You should be talking to your manager as well!  My manager?  That sounds really scary and intimidating, especially if I don’t love what I do!  I get it, even once I made the change into HR, there have been many times where I talked to my manager about my desire to move into another area of HR.  But what I hope you find out is that your manager can be an amazing advocate for you, even if it is to help you find something else.

But if that still sounds scary, here are three tips to help you prepare for the conversation!  And join me on Tuesday, February 9th for a free workshop on this exact topic for more tips and live coaching for anyone who joins the call!  

Be honest.  I’m not saying tell your manager you hate your job and everything about it!  But if what you do today isn’t turning out to be your long term passion, that’s ok.  The trick is to tell them in a productive way.  Share what you do like about the work and what you have learned by being in the role.  But that you are finding that this other kind of work (or skill or area of interest) is what really excites you.  And you wanted their advice about if there was an opportunity to do more of that either in your role, on the side or even the potential to move into a role that focused more on this new interest you have.  Or even if that isn’t possible today, you would love to be kept in mind for future projects and opportunities as they come up.  You never know what might be in the works that isn’t public yet and no your manager will think of you once it’s available!

Invest in Your Development.  As you think about the new career you want to explore, are there new skills you need to develop in order to be a stronger candidate?  It could be a technical skill like knowledge of a platform or software (think Excel, HubSpot, etc).  Or experiential skills like presentation skills or project management.  First, there are probably a lot of free courses out there, especially online options.  But ask your manager if they have any recommendations.  And better yet, ask if there is any budget available for you to use towards your development.  A lot of companies have a training and development budget and especially if it is loosely tied to your role today or just your broader professional development, most companies would support you using it for any skill building you are looking to pursue.  One caveat, double check if there is any pay back policy if you leave the company within a certain amount of time.  I’ve only seen this with tuition reimbursement programs (if you are going back to school) but just double check so there aren’t any surprises!

Ask for feedback.  Your manager hopefully knows you (or you at work) better than anyone.  So as you think about your career path and some areas you are exploring, ask them what they think!  If this really scares you, you can even position it as something you are thinking about for the future (ie I’m not leaving tomorrow) or maybe something you may do on the side.  But especially if they have seen you demonstrate a key skill that you will need for a new role (you currently onboard new clients and you want to move into coaching or training) or if it’s still within the same field but with a new focus (think an engineer who wants to become a scrum master) they may have some great ideas and feedback for you to consider.

I know all of the above will depend on your relationship with your manager and the overall culture of your organization.   But whether you are just looking to grow your current career or make a change, talking to your manager can be extremely valuable.  Don’t forget to join me on Tuesday, February 9th to learn more!

Looking for more tips on how to think about your development?  Check out these two previous posts about just that!   And of course, I’m here to help!   Let’s connect to see how we can partner together to help you build an amazing career!

Focusing Your Development Goals so you Don’t Crash

Create an Open Concept for Your Development…and Knock Down those Walls