ATD Blog

Career Conversation Starts with a Single Question

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Career development is one of the most misunderstood management activities today. Too frequently it’s all about the forms, checklists, and annual deadlines. But genuine development doesn’t happen like that. It happens a little bit, everyday. And it happens thought conversation. 

In our research, we’ve found that managers don’t need to be suave, smooth, and rehearsed. A clumsy conversation is welcome if it’s based on an authentic interest in the employee. Through conversation, managers can help others reflect deeply, surface insights, identify actions, and establish momentum toward career goals. And it all starts with a single question. 

Since July, ASTD has been collecting examples of some of the best career questions members have ever been asked. So, this is less of a blog post and more of a “Bev and Julie’s Top 10 List,” Here are our favorite, freshest questions for getting a career conversation started. 

10.       What about your work energizes you?

9.         On your 85th birthday, what do you want others to say about your   accomplishments?

8.         What’s the last thing you did to advance your career or improve yourself?

7.         What would you be doing if paying the bills wasn’t an issue?


6.         What does it mean to you to be satisfied at work?

5.         What have been your greatest accomplishments so far?

4.         What’s the greatest value that you bring to your work?

3.         What are you passionate about that you’re not pursuing?


2.         What’s your personal definition of success?

1.         Where are you playing it too safe? 

Imagine what could happen if managers picked a question—any question—and just started the conversation! 

What are the best questions you’ve ever been asked? What are the best questions you’ve ever asked? 

This guest blog post celebrates the launch of the authors' book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want.

About the Author

Beverly Kaye is recognized internationally as one of the most knowledgeable and practical professionals in the areas of career development, employee engagement, and retention. Her contribution to the field includes the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Love `Em or Lose `Em: Getting Good People to Stay, now in its sixth edition. Her recent books include Up Is Not the Only Way and Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, which helps managers blend career conversations into their everyday routine. In 2018, ATD honored Beverly with a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing her contributions to the profession. The Association of Learning Professionals honored her with their 2018 Thought Leadership Award. In 2019, Beverly was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute for Management Studies.

About the Author

Julie Winkle Giulioni is a champion for workplace growth and development and helps leaders optimize talent and potential within their organizations with consulting, keynote speeches, and training.

Julie is the author of Promotions Are So Yesterday: Redefine Career Development. Help Employees Thrive. and co-author of the international bestseller Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want. She is a regular columnist for Training Industry magazine and SmartBrief and contributes articles on leadership, career development, and workplace trends to publications including The Economist.

Named by Inc. magazine as a Top 100 Leadership Speaker, Julie’s in-person and virtual keynotes and presentations offer fresh, inspiring, yet actionable strategies for leaders who are interested in their own growth as well as supporting the growth of others.

Her firm, DesignArounds, creates and offers training to organizations worldwide and has earned praise and awards from Human Resource Executive magazine’s Top Ten Training Products, New York Film Festival, Brandon Hall, and Global HR Excellence Council.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.