Career Discussion with Manager Template

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What's included

Career discussion with manager template overview

A career discussion meeting template is a structured tool guiding one-on-one conversations between managers and their employees regarding career development. 

These discussions are crucial for understanding employees' aspirations, aligning their goals with organizational objectives, and planning for future growth within the company. 

The template includes:

  • Guidance for managers: Managers get detailed instructions on how to approach the discussion, emphasizing the importance of understanding the employee's career aspirations and aligning them with the organization's goals
  • Structured meeting agenda for the first one-on-one meeting focused on career development: Managers get specific questions and directives on the objectives of each segment of the conversation, ensuring a productive and meaningful exchange—this guidance helps managers prepare and focus on the right topics to fully engage the employees in shaping their career path
  • Fillable sections for meeting notes: The template has structured spaces allowing for real-time documentation of discussions, decisions, and action items for career growth—this feature ensures that the manager and their direct reports have a clear, mutual understanding of the discussion outcomes and agreed-upon next steps
  • Career development action plan: The template outlines a detailed, actionable strategy for career development, including goal setting and defining milestones and timelines—this approach will help managers co-create a tailored action plan that outlines specific steps employees can take to achieve their career objectives
  • Follow-up and check-ins: The template encourages establishing a schedule for regularly reviewing employee progress toward career goals—the check-in meetings will be instrumental in reviewing the action plan's progress, making necessary adjustments, and supporting the employee's development (managers can set their next meeting with the employees immediately)
  • Section to document roadblocks: Managers can get an overview of the challenges and roadblocks encountered by the employees on their professional development journey—the employee can fill in the section before the next meeting


How to use this career discussion with manager template

Using this template, managers can effectively conduct career discussions that not only motivate employees but also actively contribute to their professional growth and alignment with organizational goals. This structured approach ensures that career development is a continuous, supportive process that fosters employee engagement and retention.

Steps to follow:

  • Review the employee’s previous performance evaluations, OKRs, and any past career development plans
  • Review the questions and discussion points included in the agenda template so that they are tailored to the employee’s career interests and aspirations. (For example, for a high-performing employee, you can add questions to investigate whether or not they are interested in a leadership role. In contrast, for a new employee, you can focus the development conversation on short-term goals until they feel fully settled into the company.)
  • Follow the template to cover all necessary sections, ensuring a thorough discussion of each aspect of the employee’s career development
  • Collaboratively develop an action plan with specific, achievable steps that support the employee’s career goals
  • Ensure that the goals set are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) to facilitate effective tracking and achievement


What is a one-on-one discussion format?

A one-on-one discussion format typically involves a face-to-face or virtual meeting between an individual and their manager or mentor. It provides a dedicated time for both parties to discuss various topics, such as performance (metrics), goals, challenges, career development opportunities, and any other relevant issues.


Unlike team meetings, where agendas are often predetermined by leaders and focus on collective objectives, one-on-one discussions empower employees to drive the conversation and prioritize topics essential to their growth and development.

What does a good 1:1 look like?

A good 1:1 meeting is characterized by effective communication, active listening, mutual respect, and focusing on meaningful topics. It allows the individual and their manager or mentor to share updates, ask questions, provide feedback, and collaborate on solutions to challenges or opportunities.

What to ask in a career development meeting?

In a career development meeting, it's important to ask questions that facilitate discussion and reflection on the individual's career goals, aspirations, strengths, and development needs. 


Some questions we included in our template are:

  • How do you see your current role aligning with your long-term career aspirations?
  • What are your career aspirations and long-term goals within the organization?
  • What skills or knowledge do you want to acquire to help you achieve your career goals?
  • From your recent performance reviews, were there any areas for improvement and action items that you’d like to focus on?

What is a good career conversation?

A good career conversation fosters open communication, mutual understanding, and goal alignment between an individual and their manager or mentor. It provides an opportunity for the individual to discuss their career aspirations and professional goals, strengths, development areas, and interests, while also receiving guidance, feedback, and support from the manager or mentor.