Climb Up The Ladder By Acing Career Conversations

Climb Up The Ladder By Acing Career Conversations

Most people associate bad experiences with career conversations. Ever thought why is that the case? Could it be that they’re scared to bring it up with their manager? Perhaps they don’t know who is the right person to have these conversations with? Or that they’re demotivated to even try?

Most employees feel that their performance review or appraisal meetings are the only times they should have career conversations but that’s not true. Waiting around for a year is like missing out on some major opportunities. Wondering what are some tips to have effective career conversations? We’ve got you.

Tips for Holding a Great Career Conversation

As per Antoinette Oglethorpe, here are some good characteristics of positive career conversations:

1) Not necessarily with “the boss”

When it comes to who has the most effective career conversations, the consistent view is that it’s not necessarily the boss.  The fundamental priority is the person is objective, has the best interests of the individual at heart, and has no underlying agenda.  And for all those reasons, this makes your career conversations can be difficult for the immediate line manager.  Eventually, career conversations need to occur between employees and their managers, but that might be the place to finish rather than start the conversation.

2) Often take place informally

Good career conversations often take place outside any formal management or HR process. Or they may take place in what we might call  ‘semi-formal’ settings (such as mentoring discussions, regular progress meetings, follow-up meetings after an appraisal).  Although good conversations can take place in formal HR processes such as appraisal, they’re not all that frequent.

3) Sometimes are unplanned

Most meetings where good conversations take place are planned but they can also be spontaneous and unplanned. Valuable conversations with friends and work colleagues, for example, often happen spontaneously.

4)  Don’t have to take a long time

Good conversations usually take time, say three-quarters of an hour to an hour.  But sometimes a short first conversation is useful as a prelude to setting up a longer meeting.  Sometimes a single conversation on its own can be pivotal, but often several conversations are needed to make progress

5)  Provide different levels of support at different times

Employees often need career support at defining points like starting a new role, considering a job move (internally or externally), or when they come to the end of a development or training program.  At other times a lighter touch is needed.

6)  Focus on who they are, what they want, and why

A good career conversation can cut through the noise to help employees focus on where they’re at and reduce unnecessary stress.  Discussing how they feel about their current job and career can clarify matters and unload some negative emotions which can get in the way of positive thought and action.

7)  Help individuals reflect on the experience

Career conversations can help people reflect on what’s important to them in their career – What skills do they like to use?  What activities do they enjoy most?  What are their values concerning work?  What work environment do they prefer?  What people do they enjoy working with?

8)  Enable clarity of direction

In an effective career conversation, people will reflect on what their own ambitions really are.  In other words, what does success look like for them?  Helping them connect their personal values and career wishes ignites their passion and triggers the desire to develop.

9) Develop self-awareness by holding up a mirror

Good career conversations build confidence.  They hold up a mirror so individuals reflect on their skills and performance, think about the feedback they’ve received, what their strengths and weaknesses are and how people in the organization see them.  Done well, with a positive focus, that helps them believe in their own ability.

10)  Enable a change of perspective

An effective career conversation challenges individuals to think differently.  They help individuals challenge the status quo and move out of their comfort zone to consider what opportunities are available to them – in their current role and elsewhere in the organization?

11)  Aid decision making

Quality career conversations help individuals identify and evaluate different alternatives and opportunities, look at the pros and cons, and decide.  Or if not a final decision,  at least greater clarity about where they want to go and the development or experience needed to get there.

12)  Build networks and organizational understanding

People often need support in navigating the processes and politics of the organization.  Career conversations can help them develop an understanding of how things are done ‘round here, including both processes and tactics.  They can help them decide how to raise their profile and be more visible to key people.  And they can help them work out how to crack the system for moving jobs if that’s what they want to do.

13)  End with action

Good conversations usually lead to action.  There is a clear focus on the “So what?”  What career development strategies can they use to make progress?  What actions can they take? And there’ll also be an agreement on how they’re going to check in and review progress.

What is the Career Conversations course all about?

Supporting career development is great in theory but can be difficult in practice. Some managers may even dread these conversations. Career Conversations facilitate honest dialogue about what employees want out of their careers, what is expected of managers in the career development process, and how managers can best prepare to talk about their team members’ careers.


  • Understand what employees want out of careers and from their managers
  • Apply insights and tools for understanding the needs of individual team members, providing useful perspective, and creating connections to opportunities and people
  • Plan a career conversation with at least one team member
  • Be prepared to handle common career coaching challenges
  • Create a team strategy for talking about career development


If your manager hasn’t set up a 1:1 with you to have a career conversation, don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting on your own. It may feel intimidating, but it’s good for your own career progression. This course can come in handy if you’re looking for ways to have an effective and positive career conversation.

To enroll, contact P2L today!

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