A Game Plan for Talking to Your Manager About Organizational Career Growth

Mitchell_game plan for career growth October 5, 2021 By: Barbara Mitchell

While it may sound daunting to ask your supervisor for additional development opportunities, approaching the conversation thoughtfully will show your commitment to the organization.

Q: I’d like to talk with my manager about my future in the organization, but I don’t know how bring it up. I don’t want her to think I’m unhappy with where I am, but I want to make the point that with some additional development, I could do more. Any thoughts on how to have this conversation?

A: I hope that your manager will respond well to your request to talk with her about your desire to up your game. After, this should be very encouraging to a manager.

If you keep your focus on your passion for the mission and the organization’s success, your manager shouldn’t feel as if you are unhappy where you are.

However, don’t spring this on her. Carefully plan out what you want to say before you request some time with your manager. Be upfront about what you want to discuss so she can be prepared.

Consider saying something like, “I really enjoy my job here and want to contribute to a successful mission. I’d like to share some ideas I have and get your thoughts on what I need to do to make an even greater contribution. Can we make this part of our weekly one-on-one conversation in the next few weeks?”

If you keep your focus on your passion for the mission and the organization’s success, your manager shouldn’t feel as if you are unhappy where you are.

As you prepare for the meeting, take some time to list contributions you have made. Be ready to talk about ideas you have to improve your department or organization and focus on how you could work to make those ideas a reality. And if you need mentoring or training or something else to maximize your impact, be prepared to share what it is and how much it would cost.

For example, you may ask to find a mentor in the organization (or outside) who might help you build your marketing skills. While this won’t cost anything, do acknowledge that it will require your time. Or, if you’d like to take a class to learn a new skill, research options and prices. Don’t overlook options for development, including podcasts, webinars, and free online learning programs online like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offered by universities.

Most importantly, keep your focus on how your development will benefit both you and your commitment to the organization. If you take this approach, I am sure your manager will not only listen to you but also support you. 

Barbara Mitchell

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you'd like her to answer? Send it to achq@asaecenter.org.