Career Development One-on-Ones

Career Development One-on-Ones

In 2020, a poll of one million workers in the US by Gallup found that leaving a bad manager was the number one reason why workers quit.

Many times, when we think of a bad manager, our imagination goes to “that person who just wasn’t meant to be a people leader.”

However, more and more employees report that a “bad manager” includes those who don’t talk to them about their career or professional development.

Most of the time, managers want to have these conversations, but they feel, well … uncomfortable.

The reason career conversations aren’t happening isn’t because leaders don’t want to have them. It’s because they aren’t quite sure how to have them.

We find an 80% increase in skills and comfort to have career conversations after participating in a coaching program focused on developing those skills.

Not quite sure where to start with your Leaders?

Good managers want to help with career ambitions. Development discussions provide the employee with the opportunity to share their career aspirations and goals, and together with their manager commit to next steps, create space for feedback and insights, and ensure they are tracking to their development goals.

Help managers not be afraid of career conversations. Your managers may have mixed emotions about career discussions – perhaps feeling they don’t know how to hold them effectively; or they don’t want to disappoint because they know that there is not a role available that the team member aspires to. Or maybe they don’t want to lose the team member because they really need them doing what they are doing now.

Equip your managers with the mindset and skills to have effective development conversations with their team members.

Here are some of our best practices to help your managers learn how to encourage and facilitate these discussions with those they lead.

  • Frame the conversation as forward looking (i.e., no promises or expectations of an immediate move).
  • Set the expectation that the team member is prepared and leads the meeting.
  • As the manager, actively listen, provide perspectives and insights, and be prepared to think about and offer your support, as well as organizational support, to the employee in the journey toward their goals. Are there roles, experiences, and projects that are available within your organization to help with the development?
  • Take notesduring the meeting, and have your employee document their individual development plan (IDP). We find that most organizations have IDPs available for employees to use.
  • Read your notesbefore the next development discussion. Be prepared to follow-up and together, track progress.


Preparing for Career Focused 1:1’s:

Managers can provide guidance to the team member of how to prepare for a development 1-on-1 by sharing the following outline:

Gain self-awareness through assessments, performance feedback, and reflection:

  • What are the trends?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your underdeveloped areas?
  • How do your identified strengths support you in your current role?
  • How are your underdeveloped areas getting in your way?

Clarify your aspirations:

  • Where do you expect to be in your career in the next 2 years; in the next 5 years?
  • What areas will you need to develop to make that career progress?

Which strengths will be most useful to you in the pursuit of your career aspirations?

What actions do you need to take to develop those strengths? What behaviors do you need to demonstrate in this area of strengths?

What support do you need from your network (manager, mentor, Coach, learning and development, work experiences)?

What goals do you want to set? Target two or three areas to work on, and determine how to measure your progress.

Remember, Career Development one-on-ones should be iterative … not one-time events. This way there is opportunity for ensuring support is there, and course correct, or fine-tune the plan and goals as needed.



Let Coaching Right Now know how we can support you as you embed the practice of effective career development in your organization’s culture. Contact us at: