Career growth: The conversation you need to have with your boss

by Danielle Toussaint-mansell - director, ticket sales & service at oklahoma energy fc | January 28, 2019

So you’re crushing your numbers, coming in early and/or staying late, and just being an all-around amazing teammate and now you’re ready for the next step? Awesome! We all have friends and acquaintances that complain all day that their careers aren’t advancing. They feel like they’ve been passed over or ignored for promotions or big projects. The question I always ask those that feel like they’re going nowhere in their career is, have you asked? Have you actually sat down and had a big kid conversation with your boss about your career goals or where you want to be in the next 5 or 10 years. Hopefully you have a manager that is asking you questions like that in weekly (or monthly depending on the size of the group they manage) meetings and they already know your intentions but if you don’t have a leader like that, it’s on you. Nobody cares more about your career than you (and maybe your mom) so if you leave it up to someone else, you’ll lose 9 out of 10 times. Here are a few steps to take your career in your own hands and own it.

1) You have to know your goals better than anyone. This means you have to take some time to write out your goals and the career path you intend to take. Be specific about where you want to take your talents so that you can accurately articulate them to literally anyone that asks*. You have to be an expert on you. What you excel at, where your strengths are and areas of improvement.

*Pro-tip: You never know when your best friend’s cousin’s new boyfriend might just be the “in” you need at a Fortune 500 firm for a big sale or even your next job offer.

2) Now that you know where you want to go, you need to communicate to your boss. Set up a meeting at least a week out with the specific messaging that the meeting is to talk about your career goals. I always recommend scheduling meetings like this early in the morning for a couple reasons. You are less likely to get pushed for something else. You won’t be stressed to the max all day and you’ll be clear headed (assuming you actually slept the night before).

*Pro Tip: These conversations never get easier as you grow in your career, you just get better prepared.

3) The day of your meeting, get up early and present the best possible you. That means showered, hair fixed, outfit pressed, and your act together. Don’t show up to the office late and looking disheveled. As a manager, I only care as much as you do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone walk into my office to have professional conversations looking like they rolled out of bed and dragged themselves into my office. If I couldn’t walk you into the President’s office to chat, it’s not a good start.

*Pro Tip: Depending on your office dress code: this means clean shaven for the guys and an appropriate outfit for the ladies (not too short, too tight or too revealing). You are there to talk about you and your abilities, not your fashion sense, (unless of course, you’re in fashion.)

4) Be ready to be coached. Don’t walk in expecting rainbows and sunshine. If you are truly looking for growth, be ready to get real feedback about how you can improve. Take a deep breath before you walk in and remind yourself that growth doesn’t come without growing pains. If you’ve taken the time suggested in #1, then you probably already know what they are going to address as your areas of growth. With real self-assessment beforehand, this can actually be a great conversation. Be sure to ask open-ended questions about ways they suggest you can improve. Don’t be afraid to speak to specific areas that you would like guidance on. Personally, I know that I have the worst poker face. Good to know for Vegas, great to know for the boardroom. I make a conscious effort when I’m frustrated in a meeting to be aware of what my facial expressions are telling those around me. It’s a constant battle for me and those who I’ve worked with in the past can tell you, I’m still very much a work in progress.

Pro Tip: Be sure to walk out with specific action steps that are measurable and attainable (i.e. SMART Goals) so that next time you meet, you will know exactly where you stand.

5) Lastly, (this one is easy) take notes and put everything you learned into action. Be sure to follow up with your boss via email or hand written note, thanking them for their time and letting them know that you will be working over the next 6 months (or agreed upon time frame) to address everything you spoke about. Ask them to coach you whenever the opportunity presents itself. Real time feedback is the best. No one likes a dated list of times they could have improved.

Enjoy every chance you get to grow in your current position and be sure to keep the lines of communication open. Your biggest ally will be a boss who is pushing for your next promotion or opportunity for career growth. After meeting with your boss, don’t expect a promotion tomorrow but be realistic about the time-frame and know that sometimes growth means leaving for new opportunities. There is nothing wrong with growing your career elsewhere.

-Danielle

Danielle Toussaint-Mansell is a regular contributor in theClubhouse and the Director of Ticket Sales & Service at the Oklahoma Energy FC of the USL. She currently leads their ticket sales and service strategies and all sales team members. Prior to her role there she was the Director of Client Services for the New Jersey Devils and before that she spent 5 years at the Oklahoma City Thunder where she was in Premium Account Services.