I'm in Prague this week on vacation and I am thoroughly enjoying this city. Just a little work (and a little blogging) is a fine balance to days of walking, sightseeing and eating. Prague is also where a number of my colleagues are working on assignment. Each is here for a different reason as she/he balanced professional decisions against some significant personal choices (think kids, Europe, parents, etc.).
And I can't stop thinking about a mentoring conversation that someone shared with me a few weeks ago. This person thought he had a great manager who was giving great advice. The manager made it very simple: "Don't tell me what you want to do for your career. First, tell me where you want to live".
This one continues to gnaw at me. Perhaps if the employee had to live somewhere for personal reasons, then a career discussion could follow. But this one was so open ended that it was truly unfair for the employee.
Career aspirations balanced against an assessment of capabilities is a critical part of a career discussion. One's family status and ability to live in different locations could balance that discussion off nicely.
But, please, let's ensure that we are helping our people maximize both their career and their personal lives by making informed judgements. Have an open, fact-based discussion and don't try to be all that clever in your questions.