Start that vital chat about your career path

JOB CHAT: A career conversation - which can be had outside the annual performance appraisal - allows an employee to check and chart his performance and career path against his goals. During the conversation, an employee should focus on his aspirations and accomplishments, as well as determine the opportunities within the company and the level of support he can expect from his manager.


    Oct 20, 2015

    Start that vital chat about your career path

    LET'S face it: managers do not always look forward to that talk with employees about how they can be better at their jobs. On their part, the question at the back of the employee's mind is: will my honest feedback backfire?

    But such a dialogue - or a career conversation - is the buzzword that managers of today should heed. Career consultancy Right Management has found that of the factors that motivate people at work, two-thirds are related to career conversations.

    These conversations are not one-directional pep talks. A career conversation - which can be had outside the annual performance appraisal - is when a staff member and his supervisor talk about career goals and how to achieve these goals through an action plan. The employee can then check and chart his performance and career path against the plan.

    "People are happy and engaged at work when they are inspired," says Mara Swan, global leader of Right Management and executive vice-president of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup.

    "When individuals experience effective career development through ongoing career conversations with their managers, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and ready to take on new challenges."

    If your boss is not having such a dialogue with you outside your annual review, consider initiating one. Give yourself a couple of hours to prepare before initiating a career chat.

    Consider having one of the following six career conversations with your boss:


    It is important to understand how your role fits into the organisation, so you can see how you are contributing. This career dialogue helps you to map your job journey with input from your manager. It is also helpful to let him know what your career aspirations are.


    Although you are going to talk about employee development with your boss, think about what you want professionally and do not leave it entirely up to him.

    Think about the possible gaps in your skills and how you might fill them. Then listen to what your boss has to say about your development needs and the best ways to develop them, because he may have an entirely different perspective from you.


    At some point, this question must have come up, but roles evolve and organisational needs change. So it is crucial to ask this question every now and again to ensure that your goals and aspirations align with those of the organisation.

    You need to know and understand what is expected of you, what you are responsible for and how your work is measured and evaluated, so you can perform well in the role.

    Let your manager know what resources you need to perform your job well. Work with him to set career goals with attached timelines, clarify what needs to be done and discuss how you will be rewarded and recognised for the work you do.


    People want to know how their contributions will be recognised. A career chat is the perfect time to let your boss know what your interests are and you can take the opportunity to work on your personal brand.

    5. HOW AM I DOING?

    Employees need to know how they are doing so they can course-correct, if needed. They want to take on meaningful projects that make an impact.

    Take the opportunity to find out from your boss how others perceive you. Solicit feedback whenever you need it and do not wait for performance review time.


    It makes sense to map out your career path so you have a sense of where you want to go next. During this conversation, share your career map and ask about opportunities and the business landscape. This conversation allows you to make changes to your development map and find out how each choice will impact your work journey.

    During the conversation, focus on your accomplishments, goals and aspirations to drive the conversation. Talk about the opportunities within the company and determine the level of support you can expect from your manager.

    If your manager asks you a question that you are unable to answer, be honest; say you do not know the answer but will get back to him. More importantly, do not make promises that you cannot keep - try to stick to your prepared points as much as possible.

    This article was contributed by career consultancy Right Management and recruitment company ManpowerGroup Singapore.