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Don’t Presume Your Manager Knows Your Career Aspirations

open communication“Debbie, I never knew that was something you aspired to do. Let’s make it happen.” Two years later I became a partner in our firm.

The above is an excerpt from a recent Fortune piece written by Debbie Messemer, managing partner of KPMG San Francisco, and it gets to the heart of something I see with my Career Coaching clients all too often – people assume their manager or boss knows their career aspirations, but in reality, the manager has no clue what their employee desires.

Let’s take a step back. In the article, Messemer originally seeks to answer the question, “How can you find career support outside of your friends and family?” She gives a variety of good, helpful answers (like starting with your professional network).

She eventually gets to this advice: Professionals need to have an open line of communication with their managers, aligning on goals and aspirations.

When Messemer approached her manager openly, good things happened:

When I determined that I had the skills, experience, and confidence to become a partner, I had lunch with my manager, who was a partner in our office, to ask for his advice and support for such a promotion.

Now, not everyone is going to get a partnership out of this process. Some will actually get the opposite insight – that their boss is NOT aligned with their aspirations, and that they should seek opportunity elsewhere.

But either way, action steps become clear when you open up dialogue with your manager.