There is a difference in being loud and being clear when it comes to your career. When it comes time to discuss your career path with your boss, being clear is far more valuable than being loud. After all, we can easily tire of noise but clarity is always desirable. Whether you have a performance review or a one-on-one meeting with your boss, here are a few ways to make sure you clearly articulate what you want out of your job and where you see your career going:
- Be consistent on what you value – From the day you accept a job, through promotion discussions, relocation conversations and performance appraisals, clearly articulate what is important to you about your job. If salary and other forms of compensation are a driver for you, then say so. Don’t send mixed messages and then get upset when the pay increase doesn’t come.
- Spell out your dreams and desires – There is nothing wrong with being very specific about what you dream about doing or being in the future. As much as you like to think that people who manage your career remember and reference earlier conversations, the old adage that someone has to hear it six times to remember it, holds true here. There is nothing wrong with expressing your dreams to your boss, HR and whoever else asks.
- Explain what it is that can make you better – If you have a complaint, turn it into a positive improvement suggestion. If you could work more productively or better, make these suggestions in a way that makes them measurable.
- Write down your career map and keep it handy – Without a map (or GPS) you can end up anywhere. So why not have a career map that you carry, pull out and show when someone talks to you about what your future. Arguably, most career maps can look like a NYC Subway Map, but that’s okay, as there are lots of ways to get from downtown to uptown, you just want to make sure you come out of the subway you are at the right stop.
- Follow up career conversations with an email – Things get said in career conversations that are best followed up, clarified and codified in an email. Start this email thanking your boss for the time and then say, “This is what I heard and I just want to be sure that I heard correctly.” If you get back a commendation for your good listening and follow up skills all the better.
If you are clear about your job, you may never have to get loud. While the squeaky wheel gets the oil, it is also the first wheel to be replaced when the squeaking comes back. So, let’s be clear!