Employee talking to boss about career progression plan - Hays Viewpoint, careers advice blog

So, you have been in your role for a while, and are starting to wonder how much more progress you can make at your current organisation. You know your job inside out, and are certainly performing well – but ask yourself – are you continually developing and learning within your career?

No matter your field, constant progression during your career is essential. Without it, your role will seem repetitive, your skills could become outdated, and you are hindering your chances of success when applying for roles elsewhere, as well as in the future.

To a large extent – career development is down to you. You need to know which areas you want to improve in, and what your long term career goals are. You will then need to proactively communicate these goals to your boss and suggest action points for achieving these.

Once you have done this however, your boss should use their experience, seniority and influence within the organisation to help you achieve your goals.  Therefore, in order to gauge how much your boss cares about your career progression, ask yourself whether they are taking these below steps when you approach them to discuss your development.

1. Your boss communicates regularly with you

If your boss really cares about your career progression, they will have proactively tried to create an open environment in which you feel you are able to communicate your thoughts on how you see your role progressing. They will also make their own suggestions and provide feedback on areas where you can develop.

A prime opportunity for this type of interaction could include one to one meetings. Do you have regular catch ups with your boss to discuss your professional progress or “career map”? If not, do you think they would be they be receptive if you asked for this to start happening? Open communication during regular meetings provides both you and your boss with the chance to discuss the steps necessary for you to fulfil your potential.

2. Your boss encourages you to challenge yourself

Does your boss give you the chance to take on more responsibility or stretch yourself beyond your current day to day responsibilities, and are these opportunities relevant to your career goals?  Think about any new tasks or projects that they ask you to undertake, which aren’t typical for your day to day role.  For example, if the destination on your “career map” is to eventually become a people manager – then your boss might ask you to train up new members of the team and introduce them to other people within the business. The ability to welcome and integrate new team members is an essential people management trait.

In allowing you to take on tasks outside of your comfort zone, your boss is demonstrating to you that they want you to develop, and are willing to help you get there.

3. Your boss connects you to the right people

Another way your boss can help you meet your career goals, is by using their senior status to connect you to the right people. To use the same example as above, if you want to become a people manager, this will involve being promoted up the ranks within your company, therefore your boss will know who you need to impress. Moreover, they will know how to get you in front of these people to show off your skills, whether it is in the form of giving presentations, representing the team during meetings, or inviting you to corporate events.

Ask yourself – how often does your boss connect you with the people who can influence your career progression?

4. Your boss says yes to training

How supportive is your boss when it comes to training opportunities? As I mentioned in the introduction, it is down to you to find out what your goals are and proactively search for actionable ways to achieve them, and ideally your boss will supplement these with their own. One of these ways could be via certain training courses relevant to your career goals.

It is important to bear in mind that training courses can be a big investment of company time and money, therefore sometimes circumstances won’t allow. If your boss’s hands are tied on this basis, they should at least explain their reasoning, and suggest alternative ways to up-skill yourself which don’t impact time and budget as much.  These could include webinars, podcasts or training and mentoring sessions with relevant members of staff.

You are taking the initiative to learn new things in order to develop your career-your boss should understand and recognise this ambition, see the value it could bring to your organisation and therefore help you out wherever possible.

5. Your boss gives you credit

If you do something well, does your boss publicly praise you or take the credit for themselves? You need to know that your boss has your back and that they aren’t just following their own agenda. A key indicator of this is your boss commending you in front of the wider team, attributing relevant successes to you and being happy to let you take credit where credit is due.

6. Your boss welcomes promotional opportunities

The ultimate test – if a promotion comes up within your team which seems perfectly aligned to what you want – how does your boss react? They know you will want to apply for this opportunity. If they think you are suitable, do they encourage you to go for it? If they don’t think you’re quite there yet, do they give feedback and offer to help develop you accordingly?

What if an opportunity comes up elsewhere within the business that you would be perfect for and they know it? This situation is the definitive indicator of whether your boss cares about your career progression.  If they are willing to help you move elsewhere in the business for the sake of your career development-then they truly have your best interests at heart.

What to do next

Ask yourself the above questions to indicate how much your boss cares about your career development. If you answer yes to most of them – then you have a good boss who is supportive of your personal development and future career goals. Therefore, it is important that you make them proud – they have invested their time and budget into developing you, and will want to see results. Make the most of any new challenges, training and development opportunities that you take on, and feed back to your boss on how it has helped you.

If you answered no, then it’s time to have that conversation with your boss. Are they able to alter their management approach and support you more in realising your career goals? If not, then it may be time to move on and find somebody who can.

If you do decide to look for a new role at an organisation which can truly develop you, don’t forget to emphasise your ambitions on your CV, when speaking to a recruiter and during the interview stage. Find out how much these prospective employers can accommodate your career goals, and let this be a deciding factor when choosing between them.

You should also check out some of the below articles surrounding what to assess during the job search stage:

 

Author

Nick Deligiannis began working at Hays in 1993 and over the 22 years he has been with the company has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business, including the role of Director responsible for the operation of Hays in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors, and was made Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.