Career Conversations Bosses Should Have With Their Employees

One easy way to improve your relationship with your direct reports is communication.

You can improve your communication by having these conversations with your direct reports.

Whether you have formal check-ins or intermittent meetings, make sure you’re asking:

1. How they are doing

Make sure you’re not just asking how they’re doing but also express interest in their response. This means reading between the lines and understanding when something bigger is simmering. It means asking follow-up questions if something feels off. And it means getting to know what else is going on in their life that may or may not be affecting their work.

2. How you can help

Delegating work doesn’t mean you leave your employees in the dust to fend for themselves. Make sure you’re checking in to see if they help, especially since they may be afraid to ask for it.

This goes double for any manager who’s always in meetings or sits far away from their team. Whether you mean it or not, this lack of a presence can translate into “I don’t care” or “I don’t have time for your problems.”

Just asking this question can help make sure that’s not the message your team is getting.

3. What you prefer they prioritize

Goals shift, strategies change, and when they do your employees will struggle to know what to focus on. When this happens, don’t just explain why it’s happening but also how it’ll affect each individual. This will help them understand if they need to reorganize their schedule.

4. What areas you would like to see growth most

Giving feedback on an ongoing basis is crucial for your employee growth. Be sure to follow up any feedback with clear improvement metrics and timelines.

Also, note, this is a great time to give positive feedback, too!

5. How you can help them reach their goals

The best managers know that they can be your biggest advocate, but also your biggest blocker. So by asking this question, you can ensure you’re not standing in the way by accident.

6. Be Aware of their long-term goals

Get a sense of where they want to be in three months, six months, a year from now. It may surprise you to find, they want to pick up projects that you need to get done. Or, you may discover a hidden passion you didn’t know they had. Understanding these will help you hone in on their strengths and encourage them to produce their best work.

7. Know What Skills they Would Like to Build/Continue to Build

Similar to above, this narrows down what they are and aren’t comfortable with within their skill set. This can help you figure out what training they may need or what assignments they need to take on to improve.

While it looks like this is set in stone, there’s no hard or fast rule for how often you have these conversations. You may want to give feedback more often, or you think it’s key to review long-term goals once a month.

Just make sure you’re having these discussions. Trust me, they’ll make your job easier and your team that much more successful.

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