When it comes to developing and nurturing your career, there’s only one person that you can count on. That’s right--you. While it can be very useful to have a trusted mentor, it’s not a given that it will be your boss or current manager. Not all managers are as invested in your personal career growth as they are in the company’s success, meaning any advice or mentoring they offer you will probably be influenced by the company’s needs and not your own. But that doesn’t mean that you should expect nothing!
Here are five basic but direct questions you can ask your manager to make sure you’re making the most of their guidance:
1. Can I have an annual review?
While some companies offer employees an annual review, others do not. But if you ask for a review, your manager is not likely to refuse you. A review is an excellent way to receive constructive feedback on your performance, set goals and establish benchmarks for salary increases and promotions.
2. Can we work on a career plan together?
Ask your manager early on for assistance in making a career plan. If they are aware of your career goals, having helped you set them, they can support you in attaining them. Having a career plan is a broad, larger project that will facilitate the more specific questions we have listed next.
3. What new knowledge or skills do you recommend that I develop to be more effective?
If you hope to move upward and onward along your career path--at your current company or elsewhere--this question is essential. Your boss is the best person to tell you specifically what skills you need to develop, not just to be more effective in your current role, but to advance as well.
4. Can you give me some feedback on ________?
Asking for feedback directly is a sure way to receive constructive criticism as well as positive reinforcement, both of which will help your career in the long run. Asking for ongoing feedback and support keeps the lines of communication open between you and your manager and demonstrates your maturity.
5. What are your goals for the coming year?
It’s not always about you! Knowing your manager’s goals will help you do two things: firstly, it will help you know how to be valuable to your boss, which can never hurt your career. Secondly, understanding your manager’s goals gives you a more global understanding of the company’s objectives in general. Keeping the “big picture” in mind--and knowing where you fit in--is key to developing perspective and maturity.