Skip to main content

Career conversations

A purposeful, focused discussion to enhance self-awareness and design a path to achieving your goals.

Purpose of career conversations

Using conversation to prompt discovery, change and growth.


This is achieved by helping the staff member reflect on their motivations, aspirations, achievements and strengths, and to build on them to set clear goals that will help them find fulfilment at work and achieve their potential.

A career conversation is a place for a member of staff to meet their line manager, a mentor or other experienced colleague, and discuss the whole context and trajectory of their career including immediate goals and plans. It sits in the place of the Staff Development and Performance Review – taking place at least annually but preferably more often.


The introduction of career conversations

A recent University initiative inspired by industries to encourage autonomy and creativity.


Academics have a large degree of autonomy in their roles, and are usually highly motivated, creative people with ambition and a high level of specialist expertise. Annual review schemes that focus on filling in forms, with short-term objective-setting, have not proved very effective in supporting them to have successful careers. We are therefore taking a lead from many industries where similar sorts of workers find much greater benefit in having more frequent, less formal conversations that look at all aspects of a person’s career but still set goals and commitments.


How they are different from SDPRs

A different approach to achieving your own success.


Career conversations are not very different from the best SDPRs, but they shift the mind-set from a line-by-line analysis and setting of objectives, towards discovering your own strengths and values, and working with you to design a path to achieving success in your context.


Adopting career conversations in your department

Who career conversations are aimed at.


We have developed Career Conversations to work with staff in the Education and Research Job Family, as it is aimed at that distinctive career path.

The Faculty of Science has prototyped the approach and is adopting it for the current SDPR cycle.

Some other departments are adopting the approach in 2020; your Head of Department will already have made you aware.