Why are most “career discussions” duds? Well, there are at least five mistakes that are commonly made that lead to career discussion disaster. Here are the five most prevalent – and how you can avoid career discussion suicide.
1. The biggest mistake anyone can make when starting a career discussion is to expect that the manager can answer for you what your next position could be.
Only the truly enlightened manager spends time thinking about your strengths and how to use them most effectively. And even the most enlightened manager can’t read your mind and guess what would make you happy in a new position.
Think about it. The manager’s job is to be worrying about what the Company needs…and the manager’s biggest worry is about having the talent needed to get the job done.
How to avoid this mistake? Rethink any discussion you have with your boss to lead with what the Company needs to be successful. Show your manager you know what needs to be done and that you want to use your talent to make the Company succeed.
2. The second biggest mistake is starting a career discussion with saying, “I could do anything.”
Well, that is the lazy approach to thinking about your own career. And it makes your manager do the hard work of “becoming your therapist” so that he or she can help you can figure out what you really want to do.
How to avoid this mistake? Think long and hard about when you have been successful in the past. Use specific examples of your success to describe what you could do to help your manager, the company (and yourself). Have access to metrics, use quotes from others who have praised your talents, have hard data that indicates that you can do something specific that will help move the Company forward.
3. The third mistake is to say, “I want YOUR job” when you talk to your manager.
Guess what, your manager wants to keep his or her job. And your manager wants you to help him to continue to be successful so he can keep his job.
How to avoid this mistake? Tell your boss that your career goal is to make him successful. And follow this up by showing exactly how you can make him or her succeed in their job.
4. The fourth biggest mistake is to ask for a promotion during a career discussion. Promotions should be given once you have proven your worth.
How to avoid this mistake? Spend your time during your career discussion providing examples of how valuable you have been to the company and how you intend to continue to provide value. Spend your time proving your worth… and let your manager come to the conclusion on her own that you should be promoted. Don’t expect that a promotion will come quickly on the heels of your career discussion. Promotions take time and, in most companies, have to run the gauntlet of the bureaucracy. It may take months. Or more.
5. And, finally, telling your boss that you are completely happy where you are can be career suicide. It may be misread as you are “doing the best you can or want to do.”
Guess what! Everyone can improve.
How to avoid this mistake? If you are happy in your job, indicate how you will make your position even more effective because you know so much about how everything works.
Good luck with your career discussion. Remember that a career discussion is not about YOU, but about how you can help the Company