I am a senior backend engineer with 10+ years of experience in the industry, mostly working on web applications. I have been working for my current company for 2 years now, and I'll soon have a feedback round with my teamleader. I am not sure how to express that I'd like to progress "beyond" my current role of "just writing code" to something else/more, and also, I am not sure that there's any such "space" for me in this current company. It's a big, non-IT focused company, and we're a small team of internal developers, so that's why I don't see many opportunities to "move up" for an IT professional like myself.

On the other hand, I don't want to appear too "threatening". I don't want to sound like I'm giving an ultimatum or anything like that. The workplace culture is good, my colleagues are great, and I'm nicely paid. So, I am not considering quitting as an option, neither I'd want my manager to think I am.

So, to make it short, how can I "nicely" touch on the idea that I'd like to somehow "progress", without making it sound like "either I'M CTO in X months or I quit"?

  • 2
    Question: you stated that you "are not sure that there's any such space for you in your current company", so why bring this up if you are already quite sure that there is no room for progressing the way you want here?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 17:06
  • 2
    Other question: please describe to what do you want to progress to. What is "progress beyond my current role of just writing code to something else/more"?
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented May 4, 2022 at 17:07
  • @DarkCygnus an interesting direction for me would be what is usually called "solutions architect" (even though titles and job descriptions are always iffy).
    – mrodo
    Commented May 9, 2022 at 8:29

4 Answers 4


Your career goals should be a fair topic of discussion at any review. In most cases the company should want to help you progress along that path. In my experience the best companies will want to help you grow in your career even if your path ultimately leads you away from them.

If, however, your company doesn't do this or doesn't want to help you grow then you should probably start looking elsewhere.


It's a big, non-IT focused company

There's your issue. The ceiling's only going to be so high. They're not concerned with purchasing the latest-and-greatest dev tools on a regular basis. They're only replacing things when it becomes critical, even when they're out of support. If you want an environment that supports what you're aiming to do, you're in the wrong place.

Your boss can't make the place what it isn't, because your boss's purview is driven by the needs of the business. Save that conversation. You'll ruffle some feathers, for sure, if you share your discomfort on this subject.


This absolutely doesn't have to have an ultimatum flavor about it. The whole point of any conversation on the topic is that you have goals that you'd like to meet. I think it's a great conversation to have with your manager. Here's my recommendation:

Establish your why This keeps your "goal" from being a finishing line. Why do you want to advance? What purpose will you drive and serve while climbing the ladder? Please don't say "I want to make more money" or something similarly vapid. Money is the by-product of pursuing a deeper "why". Why do you want to achieve these things? How do they benefit other people more than just yourself? To potential commenters: When I defined my why, I decided I wanted to produce the best software possible in whatever space I worked in. As an individual contributor I can only produce so much. By moving into leadership, I can help 5, 10, 50 people achieve that goal.

Establish your milestones (metrics) This is more than just simple targets. There are milestones that define that you're progressing in your career: "Became a manager", "Became a director", etc. These milestones are good, and they should be taken into consideration. What other milestones do you have? These would be skills you learn, accomplishments you want to achieve. These milestones tell you that you're growing the right way not just achieving status.

Establish your timelines Goals without timelines and metrics are just hopes and dreams. When will you have done some of these things? How will you know it's done? How will you know it's done well?

Enlist your manager's support (get them involved) Ask for your manager's assistance in refining each of these things. When it becomes a collaboration between the two of you there can't be any form of ultimatum. If they're involved in the solution, they'll also be invested in your progress, and that will help during the course of achievement either through motivational assistance or potentially through material assistance. This might take the form of them approving a training class or a management program.

Track your progress Ultimately, you need to keep track of your progress both good and bad. You need to be able to demonstrate to your manager (and their manager) that you're valuable and making gains for the entire organization. Then in the end, if you're not valued or advanced in the manner that fits your goals, you'll have a mighty fine resume at your disposal. It's not an ultimatum at that point. It's just the natural next step in the journey.


If you don't see many opportunities for career advancement in your company you should do some research into what you actually want from your manager. Telling your manager that you want advancement but don't see how is not helping anyone. Have some specific proposals at hand that your manager could provide to you. Then you can have a fruitful discussion with them. If you honestly can't find anything you want the company could offer you there is no point in having the discussion and you will have to decide if you want to stick around.

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