MaST Business Forum - Performance Conversations - How do we include career development discussions in our regular performance conversations? - Summary

MaST Business Forum - Performance Conversations - How do we include career development discussions in our regular performance conversations? - Summary

22nd September 2015


The latest MaST Forum invited senior leaders and managers to explore how to include career development conversations in ongoing performance discussions.


The Forum set out to answer the following questions:


  • Why have career development conversations?
  • What does a great career development conversation look, feel and sound like?
  • How can you prepare for career development conversations?
  • What do you need to do to have career development conversations that motivate others to take responsibility for their career?


The Forum opened with a discussion around the drivers for career development conversations and reflected what our clients are telling us about their challenges:


  • Managers avoid having career development conversations with their direct reports because they feel unequipped
  • Individuals, particularly Generation X want more productive career development conversations with their managers who don’t know how to get them engaged
  • HR Business Partners and L&D are often filling this gap


The MaST approach to Career Development Conversations


To support both line managers and individuals to have high quality career development conversations, Jane Belcher a Senior Consultant at MaST has designed a Career Development Conversation Planner, which encourages reflection by the individual and the line manager.  It focusses on thought provoking questions such as:


  • During the last 6 months what project / task / activity has had the most significant impact on your development?


To future focussed questions such as:


  • Looking forward to the next year what project / task / activity would you ‘die for’? How would it contribute to your career development?


To explore how to help individuals and line managers have these conversations MaST Theatre played out a difficult career development conversation where the individual Maria was frustrated by the lack of preparation and engagement in the conversation by her line manager Nick. This was reviewed by the Forum attendees and conclusions drawn - there was a mismatch of expectations, lack of preparation and an inability to see the situation from the other’s perspective. All of which led to an unproductive conversation.


Emma Mairs from MaST then invited the participants to test out the Career Development Conversation Planner either as the individual or line manager for a real conversation that they need to have.  Nick the line manager in the above scenario also completed the planner to ensure he was better prepared for the next conversation with his direct report.


To conclude the Forum the participants coached Nick through a ‘stop, start’ activity to help him to use his planner together with good listening and questioning skills to have a productive conversation.  Maria came away more motivated and with a clearer understanding of her development needs and career aims so that she could start to think about her next steps.


Taking this approach into a workshop


MaST are currently working with a range of clients around this topic and creating practical approaches working with MaST Theatre to support line managers, individuals and peer coaches to prepare for and hold high quality career development conversations.  The workshops provide insights into:


  • Career conversation - tools, skills and behaviours for the conversation
  • Accomplishments - successes and the impact on development
  • Motivation - career interest patterns
  • Personal style - preferred ways of working
  • Learning style - different approaches to development
  • Skills and behaviours - functional and transferable skills and behaviours


Should you wish to discuss any of the above or other areas of Learning and Development please do call on 0800 316 9090, email or visit