Client Question: “How do you have the conversation with your manager about being ready for the next step in your career?”
These are important conversations to have so that everyone is on the same page. Sharing your career plan with your manager is a key step to ensure that they are aligned with your next step. This should ideally be a conversation that takes place when you are ready and not wait until your year-end review. Sharing your career interests with your manager helps them be prepared when upcoming positions open up that you may not have heard about yet. The important thing during one of these conversations is to be able to articulate your current competency level, the value you bring and how you can take it to the next level. How can you do that effectively?
Before you meet with your manager, you need to do some research and get prepared. One of the first things you can do is understand the expectations of what the next level looks like. Meet with people and ask them some questions like: what helped them the most as they took the role, what would they do differently, what did they do to set themselves up for success, what does a day in the life look like? You may have other questions, but those are good ones to start the conversation. If this is still something that you want to pursue then you can move on to the next step.
The second thing to do is to get a list of the competencies that candidates at that level are measured against? Getting this information will allow you to do a self-assessment of where you stand. Have examples ready that show you are performing at the high level in case they weren’t aware of what you have done in other roles or even in your current role. This is especially important if your manager is remote to your location and may not have a chance to see you each day or in meetings. Have your manager do an assessment (low, med, high) of you for each competency prior to the meeting.
Comparing the results can allow you to have an honest dialogue about how you are perceived. Talk about the value that you can bring to the next level and how you can quickly make a difference. The old saying goes: “you need to be doing the job before you get the job.” You want people to be surprised that you aren’t already at that level, because they already see you performing at that higher level. Look for stretch opportunities to do new things and build a strong network to let people know what you are doing.
If there is a gap that your manager sees in certain places then talk about what good looks like. Build an action plan to help you do what is needed to demonstrate those competencies to your management. Thank them for the honest feedback. Continue to provide regular updates on your progress against this action plan so they know you are taking the initiative to achieve change.
This is your opportunity to ask for what you want, be confident about your readiness for the next step and eliminate any doubts that they may have about you. Be intentional about your career and make change happen.