How Can We Help You Develop Your Career?

@bethtesterleeds posted a blog a little while ago that I bookmarked to come back to.

If your boss asked you:

How can we help you develop your career in the next 12 months?

What would you say to them?

I’d be skeptical about it. It never happened to me.

  • Is my boss going to stay there in the next 12 months to support?
  • Why do it every 12 months and not on shorter periods?
  • Is the boss having any power, budget, influence in the team/department/company?
  • Is this a real question or idealistic one? Or a case of you’re not fit for this position because you want things the company/boss can’t give; Or a case of, there’s a position open - I’ll be leaving the company as a boss and looking for a replacement…
  • Is the boss the direct person interested in my career or is someone else asking(his boss, HR, a colleague)?
  • Does the boss care about my personal desired career path or how the company can still use me and aim to keep me there and give me some incentives?
  • Is the boss going to support me with the career or is he asking out of curiosity or to give advice on what I could do to get there?

I think a regular conversation with the boss will reveal more about the context of the question.
The relationship with the boss matters.
Shooting all over the place with ideas from the start might not be a good path to take;

This is part of our yearly appraisal. As I’m already a Senior Tester and don’t want to go into management it’s mostly about skills for me. I’m usually asked to give a list of trainings I would be interested in. Unfortunately my boss doesn’t have final say about the budget. So my list for this year is the same as the one for last year as I didn’t get a training.

Personally I’d say talk to me to draw out my goals then challenge me / hold me to account for hitting them.

I’d be skeptical, as others have said. And since I don’t trust my boss nor that the company really has any care as to how MY career grows and progresses and that is totally up to ME, I’d probably start dusting off the resume.

I have an awesome relationship with my boss and i would take the question literally. It’s not too different to questions he has asked me in the past, I feel he genuinely cares about my development.

we’ve discussed goals for the twelve month period, we have a regular 121 (every 2 weeks), personally i think it would be great to once in a while revisit such goals to ensure it’s happening throughout the year rather than just before my review!

I’m in the fortunate position of both being able to help people on my team meet their goals, but I also want to grow professionally.

People on my team ask for training, certs, growth opportunities all the time and when they do my mind is always biased towards helping them. That said, with the request I need it to see:

  • Reasonableness - Is it more expensive that we can possibly afford? We can always try for big asks, but they are much harder to get approved.
  • Relevance - Is the person asking us to for something that’s relevant to what our company does? Is it relevant to their role or their career ambition?
  • Value - Some certs/training are frankly not worth the time spent - Some are marketed very well though, and it may be a matter to find alternatives.
  • Passion - I want to challenge the person and make them defend their ask. It’s easy to ask, follow-through is much harder.

When asking for myself:

I’m going to shoot for the moon, and hopefully demonstrate a good ROI for my leadership. With my current company smaller/incremental asks seem to go better, but with many larger companies (such as the one I was in prior), I had to get my asks well in advance to get approved for the FY. It wasn’t really even about value, it was about, “Do we have the spend for training?”

I am asking my team about this right now with a goal of building direction for every member of the team by the end of the year. In this case, it’s a reflection of a stable team that isn’t reactive. It’s also reflective of a change in my own responsibilities that allows me to dedicate more time to them.

I’m attempting to help them with their own goals while looking ahead to what our team is going to look like both in the short and long term. I know where the team is currently. I know that it is going to grow. I need to add to the team efficiently and effectively. A significant point here is to understand where the gaps are and how I can fill those gaps. I will generally prefer to do so with existing team members, where reasonable.

We have the means and the motivation to continue to develop our existing team. While I can impose what I think they should be doing on them, team cohesion and happiness is more important to me than checking off technical skills boxes. The way forward is flexible.

Given that it is flexible, I want the team to try things they’re unsure about. The goal is to develop personally, professionally, and technically. The best way to do that is to experiment. If you try it and it doesn’t work for you then you have learned something. The next choice you make will be more informed than the last choice.


I’ve asked my manager to talk to me about career paths and how i can get more involved in projects. I’ve predominately been a people manager the last year or so, but slowly getting involvement in “doing the testing” - it’s really given a fire back in my belly :slight_smile:

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