Goals
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Straight Talk About Goals

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: How do I let my current manager know my career goals?

A: Well, my first thought is that a good manager should be asking you about your career goals, but the fact that you’ve asked this question leads me to think you’re on your own here.

So, you want to take the initiative—good for you. Before you go to your manager, carefully outline your goals and why you want to go in that direction. Think through what it would take to get you to your goals—a degree, a certification, a mentor, or an online class, for example.

Before you go to your manager, carefully outline your goals and why you want to go in that direction.

Next, ask to speak with your manager. Set up a meeting for a specific amount of time, and be clear that this conversation is important to you. You want to have your manager’s undivided attention.

Start your meeting by thanking your manager and saying something positive about your work— how much you enjoy it or how much you’ve learned so far—and then share what you have determined your career goals to be. Here’s where you lay out the plan you developed. Do it as simply as possible and ask for your manager’s support.

Keep in mind that this plan only works if you are an excellent employee to start with. If you aren’t an asset to the organization—someone the organization will want to keep on the team—your career goals will be irrelevant to your manager. Take a good hard look at your performance in your current role. Be sure you’ve demonstrated your value to the organization before you ask for help to get you to the next rung on your career ladder.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].
Career Development