Talking about key topics is important for professional success says Brandi Britton

Whether you have a friendly or distant relationship with your boss, sitting down for weighty talks with your direct supervisor can be an intimidating prospect for any administrative professional. But talking about key topics is important for professional success. What’s more, these serious discussions can boost your marketability, self-confidence, and job satisfaction.

Here are five of the most important subjects to cover — and when to bring them up.

Setting expectations

Ideally, this is a talk to have during your first few days in a new position. Ask your boss to detail how your performance will be measured and what qualifies as success — which is also a good conversation to start during the interview process. As you discuss job responsibilities, take note of which tasks seem particularly important to them. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Being on the same page helps avoid confusion and uncomfortable conversations down the road.

But this isn’t just a one-time discussion. Revisit this topic whenever you take on significant new responsibilities. Additionally, you may have to reset expectations if you feel your boss is requesting too much of you.

Asking for a raise

Many administrative professionals who feel they deserve a higher salary wait for their boss to initiate the conversation — which may never happen. It’s up to you to take the first step. The key to getting what you want is preparation and documentation. Compile a list of your recent accomplishments. Whenever possible, include hard data, such as how much money you saved the department. Also collect the compliments and kudos you’ve received from colleagues and clients. Then, using resources such as the OfficeTeam Salary Center, research the latest pay rates for your job title and city.

When you’ve gathered all this information, ask your boss for a meeting to make the case for why you deserve a raise. This is a topic most people would rather avoid, but talking compensation is key to professional advancement.

Discussing unfair criticism

Let’s say you had a less-than-stellar performance evaluation but don’t feel you deserve it. Before broaching this topic with your boss, give yourself some time to cool down and absorb the feedback. After a few days, if you still feel you didn’t deserve the low rating, prepare a short speech. Start by thanking them for the helpful feedback and telling them how you plan to improve your performance. Then bring up the criticism that you felt was unwarranted, providing documentation and your side of the story. Avoid getting defensive. Focus on clarifying the misunderstanding so it doesn’t happen again.

Moving your career forward

If your boss is pleased with your performance but you feel stuck in a rut, it’s time for another talk. Smart managers do what it takes to keep valuable workers from seeking employment elsewhere, and they appreciate the opportunity to keep you on board. Talk to them about your long-term career goals and what you need to do to get promoted. Identify areas in which you feel you might benefit from more training and professional development. Together, come up with a career path that works for you and the company.

Quitting your job

Very few administrative professionals stay with one employer for their entire career, which means you need to know how to resign with grace and class. Whether you’ve accepted another job or are moving to another city, have this important conversation with your boss before informing colleagues or your social network. Begin by thanking them for their guidance and support, and inform them of your next steps. Tell them you’re happy to train your replacement during your final two weeks. The key point of this conversation is to be helpful and professional — and not to burn bridges.

Sure, it’d be easier to forego some of these difficult discussions, especially if you’re non-confrontational or an introvert. But effective communication with your boss is essential to career advancement, and your workplace happiness. With preparation, research and a practice session or two, you’ll be ready to sit down with your manager and start a productive dialogue about any professional topic.

Brandi Britton is District President for Office Team (, the world’s largest specialised staffing firm for office professionals. OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide, which place tens of thousands of highly skilled candidates ... (Read More)

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