I am a manager at a large tech company. Three months ago, all the managers at our company had career conversations with our team members.

One of my team members has expressed that she is not interested in planning for her career growth. I've brought up the subject in our 1:1's, but she brushes it off. The conversation sounds something like this:

Me: "I want to support you in your career development. Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?"

Her: "Hmm..well I'm not sure. I guess I'm content with my current. I'm pretty happy I guess."

Me: "Glad to hear you are happy in your current job. To make sure that you are aware of different opportunities, can I send you some information about the different career tracks our company offers?"

Her: "Sure."

Me: "And let's meet again next week to revisit your career goals after you've had a chance to review."

The next time we meet, she just brushes off the subject. We've done this several times now. I do not want to force anything on her, but I do feel like she has the potential to accomplish a lot within our company.

I just want her to feel engaged, challenged, and fulfilled so that she wants to stay with the company for years to come.

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    Here's a very relevant question from your employee's perspective: "How can I communicate my preference to stay where I am now in my career path, and not move “up”?"
    – David K
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 12:10
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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:56
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    Take her feelings seriously and discuss with other managers how to create a "parallel" career development track that don't require changing job titles. I myself have quit my job several times when I get to the stage of being promoted OUT of the job I love. Be aware that managing code is an entirely different skill than managing people. Any move to a different job title would force your employee to manage people and not everyone feels comfortable with that.
    – slebetman
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 15:52
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    It might be helpful to ask "Why is career development important to the company?" What's in it for them? Are they doing it just because it's "the thing to do"? Or do they have specific goals in mind? If the only reason is to help the employeer "feel engaged, challenged, and fulfilled," they're making a mighty-big assumption that "career development" is the way to do that. They're making a might-big assumption that the employee doesn't already feel engaged, challendged, and fulfilled. Are there performance issues that would cause the company to feel she is not? (If so, focus on those.) Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 19:43
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    Just to add a personal anecdote I have a friend who was promoted to a position with more responsibility (he'd been at the company 10 years). After a couple of years he asked to be demoted back to his old job. He didn't like having the extra responsibility. Not everyone wants to "develop their career". Of course I don't know the job but I'd suspect lots of artists want to keep making art, not manage, lots of programmers want to keep programmer not go to more meetings, etc...
    – gman
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 2:25

18 Answers 18


I just went through this myself. Not everyone really wants advancement and the more responsibility and pressure that goes with it. It is great for such things to be available, but as long as they are still useful to the organization, and retained, some people are happy without it. In my case, when the new growth path was added, the first thing many team members asked was if it was a job requirement? Would they be punished or even replaced if they chose not to pursue it? That took some in management by surprise as this was presented as an opportunity, but many expressed that to them, the added responsibility was not worth it to them, while others jumped at the chance.

If the individual will still be a viable employee without taking that route, then repeated pushing will start to feel to them like you are forcing it, and that without it they will not be welcome to stay. I would suggest that you talk, tell them you are not pressuring, only trying to make sure they know it is available, then somewhat back off, unless it really is true that they need to do it.

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    This is a good answer: I have realized through 25+ years in a software career, that some people do not "get" that other people are not interested in career advancement--they are truly happy doing what they are doing. I am such a person. Every time I get a new manager, I have to re-explain to them in my 1:1 sessions that I'm not interested in advancement, I'm truly happy just solving technical problems, and I don't really care if I don't get highly rated or get only incremental raises. Sometimes they get it, but many times I feel like that they are wired different than me, so they don't. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:15
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    @Ogre Psalm33: Exactly. I'm a geek, and some ways out on the Asperger's spectrum. I'm not good at dealing with people, so why should I want to "advance" (which usually translates into "become management") from something I do (if I can abandon false modesty) exceptionally well into something I don't do at all well?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 3:57
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    @OgrePsalm33: fully agree. There is probably a selection effect at work here. What kind of person becomes a manager? Well, of course the kind that is interested in career development. Managers are self-selected. It stands to reason that such self-selected managers will not easily understand how people tick that are not interested in this kind of thing. Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 8:35
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    @StephanKolassa it's a sad time we live in that the only career advancement is going into a management position.
    – Pieter B
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 9:26
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    @PieterB There are organisations out there that recognise technical excellence and expertise as career advancement and reward it as such, but they are very rare.
    – toadflakz
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 10:57

Some people work to live.

Others live to work.

If she is happy and doing a good job why worry.

She has different priorities in life.

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    You're so right with that but some people simply seem to be not able to accept this.
    – eckes
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 20:54
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    Some people have a job they hate, earning lots of money. Other people earn less money but enjoy their job. What's the point of having money if you hate every day?
    – mbomb007
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:06
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    @djechlin Then talk about professional development, not career development. The first does not imply the second. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:41
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    @djechlin Upskilling is completely separate from promotions/taking on extra responsibilities/etc. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 23:26
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    Upskilling is professional development. Our shop was vba, now it's c#. The 'job' is the same (develop in-house desktop apps). We may need to deal with nosql, possibly a bunch of *JS frameworks etc down the track, but is all professional development. Learning to manage/supervise staff, or project manage etc or other skills outside of the job is career dev.
    – mcalex
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 6:09

Is the employee interested in career development in her current role? She certainly is required to be. Asking where she wants to be in 5 years obscures the point that she is in need of career development now, even if - and especially if - she is performing superbly.

If you asked me what I want to do in 5 years, I would just guess what you want to hear, make some stuff up and we would have an equally useless conversation. The only difference is that you might have not noticed our conversation was useless.

Focus on how she is doing now and how she can grow and improve in her current role. What she wants to do in five years is not of concern to her right now and it does not have to be.

Ask questions like:

  • What is she doing well and what responsibilities might she want to take next? (Bigger projects, mentorship, developing requirements team lead, etc.)
  • What does she want to improve on?

And if she does not really know the answer to these questions it is your job to give her the encouragement. Large tech companies (and banks, etc.) tend to have some culture toward up-or-out. If the expectation is that after 12-24 months she be owning whole system components then you need to tell her that.

Occasionally get in touch with where she might want to be in 1-5 years. If she is so bored she wants off your team you would like to know that upstream (and either change up her opportunities now or make a graceful transition).

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    +1 this is similar to what I was trying to say, but much better worded. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:37
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    What I want to be in five years is retired. I will be eligible to retire in 2 months although I plan to keep working for about five more years.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:54
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    I HATE being asked what I want to be doing in 5 years; I don't even know what I want for lunch! Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 9:56
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    @GlenThomas - right? I've never worked 5 years in one company, either. In software development, this is 100% normal, people move around all the time. So I guess my answer would be "I see myself in a better company?" :D
    – Davor
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 8:34

What's amazing is to see that despite your experience (at work and in life) and position, you still haven't realized that for some people, work and career weren't THAT important in life.

Do you realize that many of us laugh at people focused only on their career, spending their time for their employer?

The questions to ask shouldn't be focused on career, which is what you're supposed to like. It's not about professional evolution, not about knowledge. It's about how people live and fulfill their identity.

You haven't mentioned what she likes, if she has children, her personality, if she has hobbies, if she has good friends at work...

She likes her job, alright. Next question: if you could change 2 or 3 things that could improve your work day, what would they be? Having more time for hobbies? More time to eat? Coming later, or leaving earlier?

And THAT's what keeps people happy at work: people who listen to them and have a personal connection.

You just sound like the generic manager who doesn't care for their employees as human beings, and talk to them like they are generic employees. Don't expect people to care about your company if you represent your company and don't care about them.

The problem lies within you, not her. If you genuinely cared for her, and knew her, you wouldn't need to ask this question.

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    This is overly harsh, OP sounds like he wants the best for this employee.
    – Aurast
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 19:09
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    @Aurast I don't think so. There are tons of bad managers out there, and they should know it.
    – user428517
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 19:17
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    @Aurast "OP sounds like he wants the best for this employee" - She said that she is happy where she is now, and OP can't accept that. That does not sound like OP wants what is best for her...
    – industry7
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:26
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    @industry7 You are conflating lack of understanding and lack of good will. While both of those are unfortunate, they are very different problems.
    – Aurast
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:19
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    @Aurast OP seems of the opinion that the only thing that makes a good and happy employee is an employee who is constantly looking to get promoted to more responsible, better paying, position. OP completely misses the point about what makes people tick in that. Most people are not like that, they want to do a good job and make enough money to live comfortable, aren't interested in becoming eventually the CEO of the holding (which is what everyone would eventually want to be in company in that manager's world, as it's the highest available position...).
    – jwenting
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 13:39

In my experience, when someone says "career goals", "career development", or "career advancement" there are potentially multiple things it means. Anything from educational opportunities/training to promotions. It sounds like the individual in question believes you're talking about promotion opportunities and has no interest in being promoted into a position where they wouldn't be able to do what they are doing now.

I would try a different approach. Try asking them leading questions about what they think the company could do for them (outside of just giving them money) - something they believe would help them be even better in their job than they already are. I think you'll get a lot more input at that point.

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    He did that, and she said she's happy and has made clear that she doesn't need or want anything.
    – AnoE
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 10:29
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    @AnoE I don't see how "I want to support you in your career development. Where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?" is the same thing as what I'm suggesting here. Or are you referring to something else? Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 15:16
  • Fair enough, somehow I had interpreted the OP on my first reading that that was at least a part. Reading it again it is pretty clear he is solely talking about "career" stuff (unrelated to general training).
    – AnoE
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 15:32
  • @AnoE but i guess that's a natural conclusion. Yes the wording plays a role on how the meaning be interpreted here, but the meaning itself is simply one thing: "how can I help you?"
    – Ooker
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 6:46

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

If she is content with her current job, you can hardly force her into a role she isn't comfortable with. Not everyone is cut out for leadership and responsibility, and it's good when people realize when they are not. If everyone would be a leader, there wouldn't be anyone to lead.

Just make sure that she knows that the opportunities will still be available to her if she decides to change her mind in a few years.

The only situations where you might want to push her more energetically are if:

  • You really need someone in a higher position and think that she would be the best candidate available.
  • Her current position is in danger of being made obsolete, and being promoted away is the only way for her to secure her employment
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    I feel it is a shame that the point about getting obsolete is only encountered in this late answer, and none of the previous (nor the accepted) answers mention it.
    – AnoE
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 10:30
  • @AnoE Because that's not the suggestion the OP is describing, and if it were, it's requires a radically different approach to "normal".
    – deworde
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 11:08
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    @AnoE You can stay relevant without moving up the corporate ladder. If she is happy in her current position that doesn't mean that she isn't developing her skills and becoming a more efficient worker. It may just mean she isn't interested in a management position. Since the OP said "I do feel like she has the potential to accomplish a lot within our company" it doesn't seem like an issue of her becoming obsolete, but instead falls into the common misunderstanding that the only good career is one that gets higher level job titles over time
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:50
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    @KevinWells, please don't overthink my comment - it's just a comment, and no downvote of all the other answers. I'm not saying that the obsolescence is the prime importance here, but a good answer could go along the line of "it's fine to make no career advances as long as we are aware of possible risks of obsolescence".
    – AnoE
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 20:13
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    @AnoE I thought I clearly addressed obsolescence by stating as long as they are still useful to the organization and stating that the answer only applied if it was not actually true that they needed to do it. If the career advancement/training/re-training is a job requirement or to stay relevant the answer is completely different and is not a matter of motivation. I felt that was covered in the answer, and was clearly not the point of the question.
    – dlb
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:27

I just want her to feel engaged, challenged, and fulfilled so that she wants to stay with the company for years to come.

So, talk to her about that. Explain that you're concerned about her becoming retrospectively frustrated if people start being promoted above her. Emphasise her value to your team.

Arrange to bring it up at most once a year in her 1-1 as a matter of form, but let her know that she should be able to come to you with it at any time, because it's about enabling her personal development, not company mandated "manager stuff" for you.

As pointed out in the comments, this is very similar in substance to what you're doing right now, but there are some crucial differences in approach.

There are two potential perspectives she could be

  • He is trying to motivate me to be the best I can be

  • He doesn't think I'm doing a good enough job with the job I enjoy

The way you are approaching seems, based on your description of her reaction, to be being interpreted as the latter. You're continually reminding her that she's not achieving what "you think she should achieve" (again, this is what it potentially feels like from her perspective).

So I'd start with damage control to reassure her, focusing on what I've laid out above.


Another factor I haven't seen mentioned here is that it also really depends on how much experience she has in her role. I only really felt the desire to "move up" once I reached a plateau in my job, and that took a couple of years.

When I first started working after college, there was so much to learn that I was already being challenged just in my current role. Had someone asked me if I wanted more, I would certainly have said "no thanks" too.

It took a good couple of years in the workforce to feel like what I was doing was easy and not challenging any more. She may just not be in that place yet.

That said, it also largely depends on what type of work she's doing, and how much experience she already has. When I started working, I was doing complicated algorithm programming and I felt out of my depth for a long time (and had pretty bad impostor syndrome at the time). She may just not be at a plateau personally in her career growth. Once she does reach that point, you may find she's more interested in taking on more challenges that line up with her interests personally.


My guess is that you're offering "career development" (i.e. promotion) and she'd rather have "professional development" (gathering and extending skill in her current role). When I'm asked about developing my career, I usually say something like "I'd like to develop more skill with databases." I want to do different kinds of the same stuff I'm doing. There are several dimensions in which one can develop.

Or maybe she's read The Peter Principle and is just trying to avoid that final, fatal promotion. Technical folk enjoy being good at what they do. I'd hate finding myself in a position where I cannot be better than mediocre.

Consider that there's a difference between formal leadership (on the org chart) and practical leadership (do others look to her for ideas, or the courage to carry them out?)

Consider that staffers of a (formal) leader receive a great deal of responsibility and influence, often out of proportion to their nominal rank, while still doing technical stuff. Might that be a good fit for this employee? Special projects, perhaps? Troubleshooting? Does your company have ways to recognize and reward that sort of service? Can you create some?

(Techie perspective again: there's nothing like appreciation of my work by someone who understands what I've done.)

To summarize: what does this employee value, and how can you get it for her in ways that forward the goals of the organization?


A lot of the (good) answers assume that not everyone is striving for leadership etc.

This is certainly true but I know of a case of a high-level executive who knew he was right in his role. His knowledge was serving the company, he was rewarded correctly, had a team he was managing (he hates management but some practical aspects force him to do that).

He was very clear with his top management: he does not want to move elsewhere. He does not want a different job. He does not want to CTO role.
He is happy with his job and sees himself right in the same spot 5, 10 and 20 years ahead.

So some people, no matter their level in the company, just feel they are where they should be. I would say that they have the courage to state this, despite a pressure to advance, embrace leadership and similar company buzz-words. Please do not make the mistake to assume that they are less valuable than their crazy-for-promotion peers.


I can think of tons of reasons why someone might not be interested in having a formal career development conversation especially in the context of some annual process.

Personally I have never found them useful in my own career development and view them as a waste of time especially when the manager keeps pushing because he has some process box to check off. Usually whatever we agree on is not done because the actual work takes precedence to training or the direction of the position changes completely from what was agreed on last October. And the training, if it is done, is often useless unless you have tasks assigned to practice whatever you learned. So while it might be cool to check the block off that you have learned some new technology, if you can't use it at work anyway, what have you gained?

And there are outside circumstances that might make this conversation even worse and you need to realize that by pushing it, you may be driving this person away because she doesn't need the added stress. One time when this conversation became pretty much unbearable was when I was dealing with taking care of my beloved who was slowly dying. I was only interested in making it through the day in those years. Asking me to care about five years in the future was not only annoying, it was cruel (because he was not expected to survive for five years). If she has something personal going on, then leave her alone. Now is not the time.

Other reasons for not being interested include being close to retirement, having young children at home (since the assumption is often that you need to do this stuff in your own time after hours and women with young children don't have time available), not being interested in the management, not wanting to change technologies or jobs because you like what you do, already being a senior person who has learned many different technologies and who can learn on their own just fine without a "plan". All of these are valid reasons to not be interested in career development at the moment.

What do you do as a manager? First thing you do is recognize that not being interested is a valid choice. That it doesn't mean the person is a flight risk. (Personally many of the people I've known who were flight risks were more likely to ask for additional training and career development to get as much as they could to qualify for a different job.)

If you have a corporate process where you have to have so many career enhancing things planned, then work with your senior management to get rid of that nonsense. In the meantime, fill in some not very time-consuming things for her to make the corporation happy, let her know that this is just for corporate consumption and you won't be bothering her about it and move on. Offering career development is great, forcing it down people's throats as a corporate requirement is not.

If you want genuine career development, that comes not in forced actions like a development plan that is often outdated within a month of being written, but in broadening the assignments the person is given and giving them new responsibilities. When you have new things for people to do that will stretch their skill sets, ask the team to let you know if they are interested in the assignment. Then choose from the people who are. Be careful not to play favorites though and don't choose the same people repeatedly when some who are interested never get chosen. If you have someone who repeatedly volunteers but is never chosen because he or she doesn't have the skills, then that is the time to sit down with that person and figure out a way to get from where they are to what they want to be doing. If you have someone who never volunteers and suddenly does, consider them extra carefully for the job.

  • Absolutely never, @JoeStrazzere. I am speaking of the formal kind where you set goals for the year. I am not speaking of the informal kind when I ask a question. Or he/she asks me if I want to work on this new project that will help me get to the next level. But formalized systems? Or the subject comes up naturally in conversation. Always worthless in annual development system terms, though. Total waste of time.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 17:18

It is, in fact, really possible that the employee's genuinely happy where she is. It's also possible that there's some kind of anxiety/procrastination going on. For example, I had a friend that badly wanted a particular promotion, but she didn't pursue it because it would've required public speaking (which she was afraid of). It's also possible that she's procrastinating making the decision about her goals itself.

Truthfully, if this is the case (and it really sounds to me like it is based on what you say above), there's a good chance that she won't be comfortable discussing that with you. I don't have a good recommendation as to how to have that discussion without making her feel put "on the spot."

If that's the case, it's important for you as a manager to understand that procrastination is not a form of laziness, it's a mental management problem. Also, given the right information it's possible to improve a lot.

There are a number of superb books on anxiety and procrastination out there. One of my personal favorites is actually Overcoming Procrastination by Albert Ellis. (It's helpful to have read his Guide to Rational Living for context for that one; I don't 100% agree with everything he says in that book, but it's still useful). Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now by Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen is reasonably good but could probably incorporate a little more insights from CBT. There are over 7,000 books on the topic on Amazon.com of varying quality, but there are numerous good books on the topic.

Another possibility: does she actually like what she does? Maybe she doesn't really want to do x anymore, anywhere. It's also quite possible that the career path she has in mind simply doesn't exist at the company or that she believes that she'll hit the "glass ceiling" (in which case it would be really dumb of her to tell you that because you'd tend to assume - probably correctly - that she's planning on quitting to get a new job eventually).

TL;DR Employees have an incentive to tell you what you want to hear. It could be that she's happy in her position, or it could be that she's having trouble making up her mind about what she wants, she knows what she want but is afraid to pursue it, or that her desired career path doesn't exist at the company.


I just want her to feel engaged, challenged, and fulfilled so that she wants to stay with the company for years to come.

With that in mind, I disagree that she is not interested in career development.

In your shoes, I would go out of the box and try to find something that does excite her. Clearly she is uninterested by your (perhaps overly corporate) definition of career development.

Does she take an interest in deeply technical problems? What problems do you, or your extended network, have that she could contribute to?

Does she follow a particular language, culture or company? How could you offer her a chance to engage with that community?

What conference would excite her? Would she and could she present at it?

What open source work could she be stimulated to do?

Could she organise a company event? A Hackathon? A charitable event? A run?

Essentially doing anything could be spun to benefit the company ("Alex, of company Y, open sources new tool to do Z, hooray!"). I think you need to look wider than your corporate advancement structure, and work harder to find a carrot that she will chase. If I had an employee that was capable of presenting at a conference, I would incentivise them to do so. Even down to cold hard cash "Present at Conference X, and I'll give you $2k."

Currently you're offering her the same carrot repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. You could be insane.


It looks like you've brought this up at least 4 times in less than a year, despite understanding that she really doesn't want to discuss this.

You need to determine whether this is a deal breaker, does her lack of career goals mean she should be fired or not? Then inform her of what you intend to do.

If you will be happy with her if in 5 years she has a job doing just what she is doing today, then tell her that. You can add that you're always available to to help her try for something else if she wants, if you like.

If you think it will be a waste of the companies money for her to still be solving the kinds of problems she solves now in 5 years, then let her know that her time is limited and start looking for her replacement.


One thing not mentioned is this employees level of experience. Not only in your organisation but also in others previously.

Some people have experienced different managers who have different styles, some of which can be very damaging. Similarly 1>1 sessions can have been used to manipulate (or even bully) these employees. In the same way 1>1 sessions could have been withheld to manipulate an employee.

For those who have experienced such behavior, coping with a 1>1 is difficult, and they can develop various defence mechanisms to survive things associated with their previous suffering. A lack of long term career goals could be genuine, but could also be a result of their self confidence being greatly undermined. It could also be a combination of both.



Some employees are simply happy in their roles, and remain there for years (or even decades) as productive team members. As a manager, your role is to bring out the best in your employees and make sure they are happy, not to force development on them.

There are plenty of valid reasons that a person may not want to move up. Maybe she is turned off by the added responsibility, longer work hours, change in work content, or maybe she just has a real passion for what she does now.

Nonetheless, sometimes long-term career planning can feel like just another mandatory procedure rather than a genuine effort to setup employees for long-term success and happiness. So, understandably, employees don't invest the time to think through career development.

If that is the case, here is an approach which follows the positive practice of coaching. It may help you to discover the employee's hidden passions. I run an online community called Resolve, and this answer was originally created by one of its community members.

For your employee to open up, she might need dedicated time and space away from normal work meetings. Try setting aside an hour to coach her specifically on career goals, with nothing else on the agenda. In the manager/employee relationship, not all employees feel comfortable delving into their vision for the future, and some might feel pressured to come up with an answer they think you would like. If you make it especially clear that you are there to help her grow professionally by separating the conversation from your normal one-on-one, that may help her open up.

In the meeting, use these coaching techniques to help challenge your employee to dig deep into her core motivation.

1. State your intention

For example: "I'm here today to help you come up with a vision for your future. I'm not attached to what that vision is. I want to support you to grow professionally, so whatever you want to talk about is fair game." Tip: Try to genuinely let go of your attachment to keeping this employee for the long term. Sometimes the best way to get the most out of people is to support them in making their next move. Maybe they'll only stick around for 3 years instead of 5, but if they are genuinely engaged, they'll create a much bigger positive impact for your company. Read The Alliance by Reid Hoffman if you want to learn more about this idea.

2. Ask open ended questions from different angles

Examples: "Where do you see yourself in five years? What do you enjoy most about your work? What do you care about most in life? How does your work feed your values? What gets you out of bed in the morning"

3. Keep asking questions until she describes her deeper motivations

For example: "I want to be a role model for my kids," or "I want to be financially free by the time I'm 50."

4. Now, ask questions and offer guidance to help her articulate a career plan that will help her accomplish her life goals or serve her core values

Examples: "How do you get there from here? What's your next step? If that is where you want to be in 5 years, what can you do differently now to get your moving in that direction?"

After this conversation, she won't just have an idea of her career plan, she'll have a good sense of what is motivating her to move forward. Better yet, you'll know her core motivations and can remind her of them any time you think she needs a boost.

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    This might be appropriate advice for an employee in her 20's, but I know a lot of competent 50-somethings who would react negatively to this approach. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 21:10
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    This is bad advice, unless you want to come across as patronizing and condescending (in which case it's good advice).
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 21:29
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    This answer does not seem appropriate for technical fields that change rapidly like IT. This answer would infuriate a true technical person. You'd probably lose the employee rather than keep them because they'd think any manager dull minded enough to force this type of meeting is the sign of a dead end job and poor management.
    – user45269
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:17
  • 8
    I'm having trouble imagining somebody this would actually help with.
    – user42272
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 22:35
  • 17
    This answer suggests to impose an hour-long talk (or, rather, interrogation) on a person who has brushed off earlier attempts to discuss the topic. -1.
    – svavil
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 23:00

Just to add because it was not mentioned. This employee may be a flight risk

Very likely she is saying I don't see any future here, so there is no need to plan for it - or do extra to work towards it.

  • 1
    Could be, but it's a large assumption. This is better as a comment.
    – user8036
    Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 12:54

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.

Thrust some greatness upon your employee and push her limits. Assign her with a challenging project. Don't ask her if she wants to do it. But be prepared to give her the coaching and help she needs to be successful. When she struggles through and realizes that she made it out on the other side, she'll be a better person.

  • 11
    This is a great way to frustrate some employees.
    – Sjoerd
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 15:09
  • 11
    @JohnK. Honestly this sounds like something from a management book (probably US management book) where everyone is a winner, a competitor and the more people push their boundaries, the more successful they and the company are. Then comes the real world, of real people. Someone pushing me beyond my boundaries despite my not wanting to "because he knows what is better for me" would get a 7 letters comment (with a dash in the middle).
    – WoJ
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 17:20
  • 2
    @JohnK.You seem to know better than the person herself what's good for her. That's ok when it is about a young child, but not when it's about adults.
    – Sjoerd
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:06
  • 1
    @WoJ I guess I should write a management book. Honestly you sound like a slacker that I wouldn't want working for me anyway. Team members that strive to improve themselves make themselves stronger and more valuable, and in turn make the entire team stronger and more valuable to the business as a whole.
    – John K.
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 18:31
  • 3
    @JohnK. No worries, in order for me to work with you, you would need to reach a wow level of management - which I hope will not happen for the good of your employees. What is "common sense" for you may not be the same for others. Once you learn that you can start to improve. Good luck.
    – WoJ
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:03

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