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Career Conversations

How many times have you sat at your desk, feeling like you need to communicate your needs or wants with someone in your company, but you don’t know what to say? Every once in a while, these career conversations need to happen, whether they’re about promotions, your role in the company, projects you’re managing, or your feelings about your work. If you’re not certain what you need from these conversations, or whom you need to speak with, you may not know where to start.

Career conversations drive business success and employee satisfaction. A survey about these conversations showed that they are connected to 2/3 of individual performance drivers. Seeing as they’re designed to help you focus on what you want and need, it’s no wonder they help drive success! Career conversations are all about addressing your career needs and goals, and more than ever employers are taking initiative. In fact, a study revealed 89% of employees feel responsible for their career development.

Characterizations of career conversations

  • They don’t always happen with the boss. As long as the person you’re communicating with is objective, you’re on the right track… And sometimes that can be difficult for a manager. Depending on the situation, a conversation may need to happen at some point, but it doesn’t have to start off that way.

  • They don’t have to be planned or take a long time. A good conversation doesn’t need to be an hour-long formal meeting. Some of the most valuable conversations you can have about your career happen spontaneously, with coworkers or friends.

  • They end with action. No matter whom you speak with, or what your conversation entails, the most productive conversations end with action. What strategies can you employ to make progress? How can you take steps toward success?

Structure of the conversation

If you’re going to have a conversation about your career with anyone, especially someone within your company, you want to have an idea of how to structure that conversation. Consider the GROW method, developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore and used by Google to help managers structure these career conversations.

  1. Goal. This is about establishing what you want, and how to get there.

  2. Reality. This is about understanding your current role and position.

  3. Options. What are your options for moving forward, to make your goals a reality?

  4. Will. What will you do now? This is all about taking action.

Initiate The Conversation

So you know what career conversations are all about, and how they should be structured… Now it’s time to initiate! If you are going to be having this conversation with your boss, definitely take the time to schedule a meeting. You don’t want to be interrupted, so make sure you get on that calendar!

Additionally, know what you want to say. Before the conversation, make a list of questions you want to ask, what you want to get out of it, and the goals you want to achieve. Of course, if you’re having these career conversations spontaneously, you won’t have a prepared list. But try to always keep in mind a few things you want to get out of career conversations, no matter who they’re with.


No matter where you are in your career, you’ll have these conversations at one point or another. If you know what you want out of them, how to structure and initiate them, and you follow up on your actions afterward, you’ll be on the path for success!

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