Keep your boss informed of you goals

Dear Joan:
I am a male, age 33, who has worked on the assembly line for a large corporation for nine years. Although the pay and benefits are excellent, I have become frustrated in the fact that I have not been able to move up careerwise.

Twice in the past five years I have gone into a supervisory assessment program, to no avail. My assessment results were good both times. I might also add that my work record and attendance record are excellent, and I have an associate degree in business management with experience in word-processing and computers.

I don't want to change companies but would also like some advancement. My company also paid toward my schooling while I was earning my degree. I need some advice, please!

You have taken many positive steps toward advancement. It's no wonder you're frustrated.

You've mentioned everything but the most important - career discussions with your supervisor and others who could help you.

You are in a development vacuum if your boss isn't aware of your aspirations or isn't helping you develop necessary supervisory skills.

The first thing to do is to analyze all your past performance appraisals and supervisory assessments. Look for areas of strength and weakness. Write down ways you think you could be using your talents more effectively.

Your computer skills, for example, may be an untapped asset that your supervisor hasn't been fully utilizing. Or, perhaps, your administrative skills could be put to use organizing schedules or helping with reports. It may be your people skills that are under-utilized.

Similarly, write down your ideas for improving your skills that need improvement. Your goal is to write a development plan you can take to your boss for discussion.

It would be ideal if you could ask for some specific feedback and development advice from the assessment program leaders. Not only are they probably skilled observers who have a lot of experience assessing specific supervisory behaviors, but they are likely to be successful supervisors as well. You could also take advantage of their coaching and advice from an organizational perspective.

When you talk to your supervisor, make it clear you are willing to assume responsibility for your own development but you need his or her support.

Next, discuss the strengths and weaknesses you wrote down. Mention specific examples. Solicit more from your supervisor. Write them down. Ask for specifics. Share your ideas for using your talents. Sell your ideas by emphasizing how your boss can benefit. Start with the simple ones and work up to ideas that will require the most support from your supervisor.

Then, discuss your ideas for improving your weaknesses. Suggest specific, job-related tasks and projects you can do on your current job.

Finally, ask if there are some other people or resources that could help you. In particular, it would be valuable to talk to supervisors and managers who have risen from the assembly line.

Ask your boss how to approach these individuals. He will fill you in on the necessary protocol.

Request a follow-up meeting so that you can review progress and make new plans.

In your conversations, you may discover that the word-processing and computer areas are expanding. Rather than moving directly to a supervisory job, you might consider a technical job first in one of those areas. It might be a smart choice that would provide change now and opportunity later.

If your efforts end in more frustration, consider getting more computer training (if it's one of your talents and you enjoy it) and then look for a technical job first within and then outside your company.

Although I respect your desire to stay with your present employer, you may be forced to choose between career frustration (which may eventually affect your performance) and career satisfaction in a different company. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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