Planning your next career step

Career conversations can be difficult, awkward and low priority, let's change that.

Planning your next career step

Planning your next career step

Within the tech field we understand the importance of having structure surrounding our day to day work. Most organisations are working within a flavour of Agile, and it’s more uncommon NOT to be doing stand ups, planning, show cases and retros then it is to be doing them. 

A team can spend 10% of their time on these activities in a given sprint, and we don’t begrudge it because working on the right thing a little slower leads to us delivering faster overall. 

However, when it comes to career and career progression the same rigour isn’t applied, even though we have the frameworks to help us do this. We don't do our team planning annually, or every 6-months, because we understand it needs to happen more regularly, however this is how we often do personal development goal setting.   

We recently surveyed over 200 developers and while nearly 90% of them were interested in growing their skills and taking that next career step, over half of them did not know if they were working on the right things to get there. This highlights a gap in communication between managers and their team members. 

Working on the right thing for your career. 

There is a sweet spot that occurs when someone is working on something that they are interested in, something that challenges and grows them, and something that is aligned and valuable to the organisation’s business outcomes. 

When an individual's growth and development is directly leading to organisation growth, the result is accelerated career growth, and improved organisational outcomes. 

Venn diagram showing optimum growth is at the intersection of Organisation Value, IC interest and IC growth area.
Optimum growth is found at the intersection of organisation value, individual interest and individual growth areas.

Be clear about what you expect

For some people it can feel very daunting to indicate to your manager that you have your eyes on a promotion or role, which can lead someone to approach the conversation with a lot of vagueness or even avoid it altogether. Many managers will leave it up to the individual to bring up the conversation, and many individuals believe that when they are ready their manager will bring it up. This leaves a large gap in communication between both sides. 

1 on-1 Career Conversation Starters

  1. I see my next career step as <specific role or title> and I would like to begin building a plan to get there. 
  2. I’m working on this area of my development currently, what opportunities will this unlock for me? 
  3. I really enjoy working in this organisation & team, what opportunities are coming up? 

If you're a manager of people, why not learn more about them with these conversation starters?

  1. I’ve noticed you working strongly in <specific> area, have you given any thought into where you would like to focus your energy over the next 6 months? 
  2. Our team has the opportunity for someone to focus on growing their skills in <specific> area, is that something you are interested in? 
  3. I’d like to support your growth, but I’m not really clear on where you see your next step? Is this something you’ve given some thought to? 

Keep the conversation going

Life, work, and growth will all change frequently and regularly, the importance of following up regularly with clear and updated expectations. This is a great time to show progress, talk about wins and challenges. 

Be clear, align your direction and start your next career step conversation today.