Getting promoted or moving into a new role at your company can be a difficult path to take if you’re not sure how to get there. While you may feel you’re ready for such a change, you may still need certifications, new skills or more experience that can give you the resume you need to take on this new role. Rather than guessing what further qualifications you may need, it can be helpful to reach out to your manager first.
By asking the right questions and starting the right conversations, you can learn a lot about what problems your company faces and what you can do to help tackle them. To help get you started, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council each offer one question they believe you should ask your manager if you’re looking to both improve in your current role and advance in your company and career.
1. Are there any additional projects I can take on?
Asking for more responsibility is usually the best way to justify a raise or advancement in a company. If you come with a concrete plan for what projects you’d like to work on, you show that you have a finger on the pulse of the company. It also shows that you are thinking like a business owner and are proactive about finding solutions and getting things done rather than being reactive and simply just existing in the company. In short, if you keep the dialogue focused on what you can do for the company, it becomes more about you adding value to the company and less about you asking for something. – Shu Saito, All Filters
2. What will show you I’ve grown and am ready to move up?
“What can I be responsible for that will show you I’ve grown and am ready to move up?” may be a direct question, but it does something important: It compels the manager to give clear metrics that a young professional can meet with the expectation of professional growth in the end. It’s also important to get such answers documented because, all too often, young people take on greater workloads but find themselves at the same pay level and role. Creating a paper trail and setting expectations for everyone involved ensures that you’re communicative and that you’re doing added work with the intention to get compensated correctly. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
3. What is the most valuable attribute I bring to the team?
A great question to ask a manager is, “What is the most valuable attribute I bring to the team?” This question helps you zero in on the particular strengths your management team values in you and the unique strengths you bring to the team. You can then start to plan and frame your future role to best play to your strengths. – Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR
4. What is our road map and how can I play a bigger part?
As a professional, you need to know where your company is heading. Chances are there are opportunities for you to gain new skills that will add value down the line. If you do not want to ask to be directly trained in these new skills, you can take online courses to develop them as well. Later—when the time is right—you can present certifications to help you advance professionally. Keep in mind that your commitment to your company is a huge value-add. If you are with a company that supports your growth, you will continue to advance. Be confident in asking what the future holds and how you can play a bigger part, then pursue education to fill this role. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
5. Can I share some ideas for the company with you?
I love this question because it shows that an employee has done their homework and is proactively coming up with plans and ideas to grow the business. As a leader, I’m always looking for people in my business who want to grow and take on responsibilities. The way I identify them is by noticing when they’re taking on responsibilities and actively helping the business in areas where it’s lacking support. Show that you’re seeing places that need improvement and then talk about your plans to resolve these issues. This alone will create a good impression and keep you top of mind for moving to a higher role. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. What skills should I focus on developing to make a greater impact?
This question demonstrates an individual’s commitment to self-improvement and dedication toward aligning their goals with the company’s objectives. By seeking guidance from their managers on specific areas for development, professionals can enhance their skill sets and broaden their knowledge base, positioning themselves as valuable assets within the organization. In doing so, they improve their current roles and increase the likelihood of being considered for future opportunities and promotions. – Kristin Kimberly Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
7. If we are successful three years from now, what happened to get us there?
A great question to ask is, “Let’s say we are having coffee three years from now, and everything has gone incredibly well for you, me and our company. What’s happened to get us there?” This allows for follow-up conversations about what your contribution to that success is, what your role can be now and in the future and also how you as a professional can help your manager achieve greater success. – Andrew Howlett, Struck
8. Where should I be focusing my time?
A smart question to ask your manager is, “What should I be focusing more of my time on, and what would you like me to focus less of my time on?” It shows your manager that you’re serious about fulfilling your role to the best of your ability and that it really matters to you whether expectations are being met. It also highlights the fact that you want your efforts and time to contribute to what matters most: the objectives that will push your team and company to success. Ultimately, it shows a memorable level of dedication and self-awareness that any manager would be pleased to see and make note of. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker
9. Are there any industry conferences or workshops I can attend?
Asking your manager about opportunities to attend industry conferences or workshops demonstrates your proactive approach to professional development. Because this is not really compulsory for employees, this question showcases your enthusiasm for staying up to date with industry trends, best practices and emerging technologies. Attending conferences and workshops allows you to gain valuable insights, learn from industry experts and bring fresh perspectives back to your role. Moreover, these events provide excellent networking opportunities where you can connect with professionals in your field, exchange ideas and potentially uncover new career prospects. If you’re in a leadership role, you get a chance to build a team with the same network, as you meet so many people out there. – Adam Preiser, WPCrafter