Performance Reviews and Career Discussions – What you need to know.

Are you heading into a performance review or formal career discussion with your Manager soon?  Maybe you want to initiate a career meeting with your supervisor?  If you are contemplating shifting careers this could be the ideal opportunity for you to hold a meaningful career conversation.  For example, when a job vacancy arises at your workplace, create the opportunity to schedule a valuable career conversation.   It may require a deliberate move on your part to plan a career discussion and take advantage of those job openings when they appear.  In either case, you need to be prepared and ready to promote your career development agenda.  Here are five tips you may find helpful:

1. Preparation is key – help your boss to help you.   

Before opening a discussion about your career, know where you are going and why.  Explain your plan by having a clear picture of your career goals and pathways.  Communicating this succinctly is essential, so be clear about the priority of your preferences.  When asked what you want for your career be prepared to answer this with clarity including desired time frames.  Your Manager will be better able to support you when you talk about a realistic goal and a structured plan of how to reach them.   This could include the specific type of job you are pursuing within the company and your timeframe.

2. Pick your timing and place.

Always consider your timing and the situation when discussing your career. Career development is a crucial conversation and you want to make the most of every interaction with your manager.  Make sure the discussion is held in a suitably private environment away from conversation disruptors such as dropin visitors.  Offices that resemble a ‘fishbowl’ should be avoided.  Also, make sure phones are set to silent and email alerts are disabled.  Additionally, if your manager appears stressed or overwhelmed by other events prior to the meeting, then I suggest rescheduling to another time!

3. Be open and transparent.

Assume positive intent and approach any career discussion with an open and transparent approach.  This will set a constructive foundation for the meeting to achieve a successful outcome.  It is best to have in your mind what a good outcome looks like.  For example, what do you want to happen?  Be clear and upfront about your objectives for the discussion and importantly check for agreement with your manager.  If necessary, write this down in note format so you can show them your ideas.

4. Build your case logically.

Make sure you explain your career aspirations with sound logic and evidence.  This means articulating your values, career drivers, attributes, competencies, skills (transferrable and technical) and achievements that support your career goals.  Avoid waffle.  This is not a gab fest!   Have a good grasp of your career profile that indicate your potential such as evidence-based competencies.  This may help your boss to see opportunities not previously considered.

5. Consider development needs.

Know your capability gaps and be prepared to discuss your development requirements.  This includes additional professional development, qualifications, learning on the job and coaching/mentoring or some combination.   Understanding and articulating this is valuable in helping you achieve your short- and long-term career goals.  Again, remember to be practical and aware of any company policies regarding professional development. 

Bringing it all together:

Document your career goals, strategies and professional development in a written career plan with clear actions and dates for achievement and share these with your Manager.  This will demonstrate your commitment to your career and enable your manager to further support your career aspirations.  You are now ready to start the conversation.  Good luck!

Get ready for your performance review and career discussion.