How to Talk to Your Boss About Your Job Performance

During the interview for your current job, you may have been asked where you see yourself in five years. But have you ever revisited that conversation? To keep your career on the right path, it’s important to learn how to talk to your boss about your job—where you are now and where you see yourself in the future.

It might feel awkward to bring up your career development to your manager. You may not want to boast about your achievements and why you deserve to move up. Or, maybe you’re worried that your company foresees you moving into a different direction than you have in mind. And there’s always the potential for rejection if your boss doesn’t think you’re ready for a particular career track.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid the awkwardness altogether—you just need a few career tips on how to talk to your boss about your job and career progression. Here’s where to start.

Don’t bring it up just once a year

It can feel uncomfortable to talk about your career progression if you only bring it up it at your annual review. A lot can change over the course of a year—so when that high-stakes meeting rolls around, you can find yourself struggling to explain why you’d benefit from management training or why you want to make a lateral move to another department.

If, on the other hand, you bring up your career development regularly, the conversation won’t come across as odd or out-of-the-blue. Plus, you and your manager can work together to develop a plan to help you move toward your goals.

If you’re not currently meeting with your boss regularly, ask to set up a recurring one-on-one. It’ll give you the opportunity to talk through smaller challenges you encounter on a daily basis, check in on your progress, and discuss bigger picture issues—like the next steps in your career.

Regularly share your achievements

A big part of talking to your boss about your potential for career development is making sure he or she is fully aware of your recent achievements. While you may assume your boss knows exactly what you’re working on, in reality, your manager is probably juggling a lot of responsibilities—and may not have a full picture of your performance.

To remedy this, set aside time during your one-on-ones to go through your recent achievements. By keeping your manager apprised of your accomplishments, you’ll be better positioned to eventually make the argument that you deserve new responsibilities or a promotion.

Yes, it can feel uncomfortable at first. especially if you’re wary of coming across as arrogant. But keep in mind, sharing facts about your performance isn’t bragging—it’s just stating the truth.

To help communicate those facts, it can be helpful to put together a project tracker in an Excel spreadsheet. Document every new project you’re assigned, the outcome of the project, and what you learned from it. By regularly referencing the tracker during your one-on-ones, you’ll learn how to speak to your boss with confidence—without feeling like you’re bragging.

Come with a plan

In many cases, your supervisor will be supportive of your career progression and will want to help you get to the next step. However, you shouldn’t come to him or her looking for generic career development tips; that’s a conversation better suited for a career coach or mentor. Instead, approach your manager with a plan and ideas for your future.

In other words, avoid generic statements like, “I want to get promoted.” You should have a specific goal in mind, along with an idea of how you’ll get there. At that point, your boss can help guide your development and vouch for you when an opportunity arises, rather than giving you general advice about your future.

Ask for what you need

As you bring up your career development more regularly, you will likely begin to identify areas where you need to grow so you can get to that next step. But before you approach your boss for help, take a look at your company’s handbook to determine some viable training routes. There may be established guidelines for tuition reimbursement or other provisions for career development.

And just as you ideally want to come to your manager with specific goals for your career progression, you should also approach him or her with potential training opportunities that can help you build those skills. If there’s a conference you’d like to attend, for example, you should know how much it will cost and be able to pinpoint the exact ways your attendance will benefit the company. With that information, your boss will be better equipped to approve your request—or get the necessary approval from up the line.

Often, these requests can be easier for companies to accommodate than requests for a raise or promotion—but they’ll also pave the way for those achievements down the road.

To keep your development on track, you don’t only need career tips for the job you have now—you need a plan for the future. By talking to your boss regularly about your career development, you can identify the steps you need to take for an eventual promotion and move forward with confidence.

On-the-job conversations can be stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. If you’re a SoFi member, sign up for a complimentary one-on-one session with a career coach, who can help you with many aspects of your career. Not a SoFi member yet? Head to to learn more.


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