HR Glossary / Career development discussion

A career development discussion is a meeting between a manager and an employee to examine the latter’s career development prospects. It also serves as an opportunity to establish the training required to enable the employee to move forward and progress.


How is a career development discussion conducted?

During the talk, the employee and manager discuss the employee’s possibilities for professional development. Unlike a performance evaluation, a career development talk is not about evaluating the employee’s performance or reviewing their progress on annual goals.

Instead, the focus is on enabling the employee to take an active role in their own career development plan. Together with their manager, the employee examines their job, their qualifications, their aspirations and the necessary training to achieve them. For example, this means defining the steps that will allow an entry-level employee to move up the ladder and become a team manager.

How to prepare a career development discussion

The person responsible for preparing a career development talk is the manager. It is up to the manager to set the date, time and agenda. An organized agenda helps define the key actions to be implemented, such as the training and mobility necessary for the employee to progress.

It is best to give the employee at least one month’s notice of the meeting so they can prepare. After the talk, the managers gives a debrief to the employee.

What’s the difference between an annual performance evaluation and a career development discussion?

The annual performance review reviews the employee’s work and their level of achievement of performance objectives during the reference year. This is an evaluation of the employee’s work with the manager, and highlights strengths and areas for improvement.

Career development discussions take place every two years. They’re an opportunity to analyze the employee’s professional skills as well as career development prospects.
The goal is to encourage the employee to develop their skills and training.

When should the career development discussion take place?

A career development discussion is recommended following a long leave or prolonged disruption of employment, including:

  • Upon returning from parental leave
  • After a sabbatical
  • After a caregiver leave
  • Following a long sick leave

Are career development discussions mandatory?

In Canada, there is currently no law governing career development discussions.

In European countries like France, career development talks are mandatory for all employees, regardless of industry or activity sector. They must be held between managers and employees every 2 years. Career development talks are also compulsory upon returning from certain leaves, and every 6 years.


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