University of Wisconsin–Madison

Episode 4 Outline

Connect, Learn and Grow Series – Episode 4: How has COVID-19 Changed Career Conversations?

Elizabeth Schrimpf, MA, LPC, CCC, Staff Career & Education Counselor in Adult Career and Special Student services helps employees with any career-related issue from understanding what works and doesn’t work for you on-the-job to building and pursuing long-term career goals.
Chris East, Organizational Career Development Specialist in Learning & Talent Development helps build internal tools, systems and spaces to help employees across campus engage more fully in their work.

What are “career conversations”?

Career conversations are conversations between two coworkers about anything related to work and productivity. This can mean a conversation between you and a peer about the work you are doing, a conversation between you and your manager or your staff about the work the team is trying to do and/or a conversation about performance or discipline.

Career conversations about needs:

  • Tangible needs: What do I need to do my job?
    • Tools, technology & skills
    • Information and deadlines
  • Intangible needs: What am I expected to get done?
    • Mission & vision of the team or work unit
    • Specific priorities, projects or goals from leadership
    • Timelines & deadlines
  • Personal needs: What else do I need to be an effective employee?
    • Emotional & mental health support
    • Child/Elder care; community resources
    • Balance of social and work-focused time

Career conversations about the work itself:

  • Changes to productivity, workflow and hours can raise new concerns, such as how often the team can gather or how the work gets done
  • Being prepared to have conversations about how this new situation affects you as an employee or is affecting your team as a manager is critical
  • Communication from leadership can lead to shifting priorities as the needs of campus change. Employees at all levels must be able to talk about what this means and be ready for change.
  • As the conversations about the work itself happen, more conversations about the needs of the employee or manager might happen

Career conversations about opportunity:

  • Are there new skills you can learn that would make your work easier?
  • Are there projects that have been on hold that you could take on now?
    Is this a time to try something new? What would that be?

If work is going to be shared, could you be paired with a coworker who likes different parts of the job? Is it possible for each of you to focus on the parts of the job you enjoy most, so that everything gets done efficiently?

How do I initiate these career conversations?

  • Check In & Reach Out – communicate your needs
  • Ask open questions – allow each person to speak and be heard

Employees: Help your manager understand your needs by sharing information honestly, keep your manager updated on what is going well and what is challenging and ask questions when you are confused or don’t understand something

Managers: Support your team by checking in on a regular basis and being open to hearing what they have to share. Listen to understand when you get questions and focus on helping your team by offering the information you have and respecting their concerns.

Everyone needs to be willing to share, listen and have honest conversations for work to continue.


LTD – Career Conversations for Employees

LTD – Career Conversations for Supervisors

ACSSS – Career Counseling for Employees

Employee Assistance Office & UW Ombuds Office

InLearning – Having an honest career conversation with your boss (employees)

Ask a Manager – Topic: Being the Boss (supervisors)

The Muse – How to Talk to Your Boss if You’re Struggling to Get Work Done (employees)

The Balance Careers – Why Transparency is Important (supervisors)

The Balance Careers – Reacting to Change in the Workplace (everyone)