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Allison Preece


L&D Manager

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Career Discussion skills for Managers


One of the skills we are trying to equip our managers with is the ability to have career discussions with employees. I'm looking to build a resource, maybe training session or guidance, for managers so that they are equipped to have the discussions. Can anyone suggest anything to help with this? I'm not trying to turn our managers into career guidance gurus, but I want to give them the skills to have discussions with employees about where they want to go, helping them to think about what they need to do to get there, looking at the skills they have and what is required and perhaps being able to tell employees when what they want doesn't quite match what they can achieve or is available.

7 Responses

  1. One to One Toolkit

    — Julie Cooper TSM Partnership

    We train a lot of people in careers advice skills, including qualifications. Finding  a dearth of resources that matched the needs of busy people that weren’t going to plough through academic texts, we wrote a user friendly book that takes the reader throught the steps of a career discussion, plus also gives a wealth of tips, techniques and models that can be useful. It’s called The One to One Toolkit, reviews and ‘Buy now’  (£14.99)are at  There is also a comprehensive review at 

    We’ve been amazed at the unsolicited positive feedback, so I hope it helps! I can also offer training or coaching sessions. Do get in touch if you need any more info.

  2. Thanks for the tip

    I’ve just looked at the book you’ve recommended and shall be purchasing. I will be sure to leave some feedback once I’ve reviewed.

  3. Have a look at TalentDevelopment from Emenex


    (immediate disclaimer – I work for Emenex).  We have a programme that may do just what you want.  Its called TalentDevelopment and the purpose is to provide both managers and their employees with the tools they need to have meaningful conversations about career development.  It also opens employees minds to ways they can increase the contribution they make to organisational performance.

  4. at the risk of sounding preachy…..

    …this should be a part of the standard Performance Management process in the organisation anyway…it is a fundamental part of the development element of an annual appraisal and if not done will result in peple having unrealistic expectations and the organisation underutilising the potential within.

    However, a manager cannot have this sort of conversation with a staff member if there is inadequate respect and rapport between them….if the staff member doesn’t trust the manager they will not be honest for fear of either reprisal or being laughed at.  I hate to say it but if that rapport IS present then a simple GROW orientated coaching discussion is more than adequate….that and the gumption to both tell someone that this organisation cannot provide for their longer term aspirations and then the strength of character to help them to plan and execute an exit strategy that helps both individual and employer.

    I have been training managers in one particular organisation in this (within a larger PM programme) for several years, feel free to get in touch through the messaging service or via rusdotslateratskydotcom if you want to have a chat offline.

    Rus Slater

  5. It’s not easy

    My experience is that career development is one of those activities that is typically not done well in organizations.  Even with the best of intentions it requires skills and knowledge that many managers do not possess.  I also believe that it is much broader than what is normally required as a part of periodic (annual) performance management reviews and development discussions.

    Beyond the required conversational skills (rapport building, listening, questionning etc) some of the challenges I have encountered in my organization include;

    Generational assumptions about how someone sees their career and aspirations.  Many managers are not of the same generation as the employees they manage.  Modern organizations do not lend themselves to the same type of career paths as even 10 years ago or less.

    Gender differences that are not understood. 

    Cultural differences that add complexity.

    One of the activities I’ve used to address these issues is to have managers visually map out their careers, their aspirations, the decisions they made, the breaks they had etc.   I’ve then given input into generational/gender/cultural differences (based on research) and discussed what the implications of these are relative to the organization (structure, opportunities, development, assignments etc) and to themselves as managers in supporting career development.

    Deepening understanding in this way goes a long way in being able to provide effective support.

  6. Career discussions for line managers

    Hi there,

    I know this is a very late post on this topic but I’ve only just joined the book club, so am catching up.

    A book I’d recommend that’s practical and full of helpful tips that I’ve used to really help career discussions go well is

    ‘Who do you think you are’ by Dr Nick Hibister and Dr Martin Roninson. It’s about understanding someone’s motives and helping them to maximise their abilities, with plenty of practical tools and templates to adapt.

    ISBN 0-551-03170-0 Harper Collins

    Hope that helps!

    Best wishes,

    Peter Welch


  7. Managers are like leaders and

    Managers are like leaders and they can impart good skills in to their employees. Discussing career skills with employees is a good point and it will help them to improve their performance. In my opinion there should be a meeting where the manager can discuss with its employees about new skills and how they can increase their performance and also consider their suggestions. It will help in developing mutual cooperation and also the manager can discuss about the career development skills.

    Career transition coaching


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Allison Preece

L&D Manager

Read more from Allison Preece

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