In today’s busy world, it’s hard to find time for career conversations. And it’s hard to
know where to start – it can be a bit daunting to talk to your manager about what you want from your career. But it’s important you do.
The “career conversation” gives you the opportunity to express your career goals,
help your managers understand what you want out of your career and where you
want to go next. It also helps a manager share his or her thoughts on how you can
grow in the organisation. But how can this conversation be most useful? The answer is in preparing for the discussion.
This post provides some practical strategies that you can use to think about your
goals and aspirations in preparation for those conversations. So here are three steps to sharing your goals and aspirations with your manager.
We spend too long at work to be unhappy
We spend more than 70,000 hours at work in our lifetime. That’s a long time to be
unhappy at work. Over 75% of our weekly energy is focussed on work – preparing
for work, getting to work, talking about work and worrying about work. So, it makes
sense to devote time and energy to actively working on it and making it as satisfying as possible.
Yet, the average person spends more time planning their annual two-week vacation than they do planning their career. Madness!
Be clear on what your goals are for career progression
Career success means different things to different people. For some people, it’s about finding a way to continue learning. For others, it’s about achieving recognition. For some, it’s about moving into a job that’s more interesting and fulfilling. Being in control of your career means different things to different people. You need to decide what it means to you.
You need to get to know the REAL you. That means addressing the following:
1. Be clear on what’s important to you in your career
We can often focus on all the things that we’re dissatisfied with in our career but are a lot less clear on what that means about what’s important to us and why.
Put aside time to reflect on your career so far and the decisions you’ve made.
- Think about your proudest achievements. What skills did you use?
- What are your preferences around work environment do you prefer? What people do you enjoy working with?
- What are your values in work and how does that affect the work you want to do and the organisation you want to work for?
- Think about your favourite role or project. What did you love most about it?
- What were the most enjoyable activities?
- What are your interests outside work? What activities do you enjoy most?
- What does that tell you about what’s important to you in your career?
Understanding what is important will help you when sharing your goals with your manager.
2. Develop a picture of future success
As well as being clear on what’s important to you, you need to be clear on what you want from your career.
One way to do that is to project yourself into the future and imagine that you are
totally satisfied with your career. Suppose you could wave a magic wand and
suddenly you are two years into the future and your career has progressed better
than you could have possibly imagined. What would you notice that told you, you
had been incredibly successful in your career?
- What would you be doing on a day-to-day basis?
- Where would you be working?
- Who would you be working with? Who would you be working for? Who would be working for you?
- What problems are you helping solve? What results are you producing?
- What feedback are you receiving from others?
- What else would tell you that this was your future success?
This picture of future success sets the direction towards which you can focus all your career development efforts. Of course, life is changing all the time and your picture of future success will change with it so you will need to review it regularly.
3. Recognise the progress you’ve already made
Whatever stage you’re at in your career, we can safely assume that you have made
some progress already. You’re already on the way, and that you have at least some
of the skills and resources you’ll need to make the progress you wish to make.
Recognise the progress you have already made in your career and identify those
actions that have helped you get where you are so far. Then you can build on those steps that have worked well for you.
Preparation like this could go a long way in helping you achieve your career goals
and make progress in your career. By taking the time to discuss these topics and share your goals and aspirations with your manager, you will be opening a line of communication between you and your manager. Most managers want to help their employees meet their career goals. They are in a unique position to offer advice, guidance and mentoring when they know what you are looking for.
Tell us what you think, have any of these ideas for sharing your goals and aspirations with your manager resonated with you? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
If you’re looking to support your people with their Career Development our Career Compass Workshop is a practical workshop to help employees develop their careers within your organisation. It will help them ask the right questions ahead of a career conversation with their manager.