Julie Winkle Giulioni: Help Them Grow Or Watch Them Go! (Ep. #21)

Published on
August 25, 2020
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Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #21: Help Them Grow Or Watch Them Go!

Many companies are missing ways to focus on career development. When managers don’t talk to their team members about career development, many people feel stuck. Especially now, we need to look at career development as a “Climbing Wall” not a “Career Ladder”.

Julie Winkle Giulioni, co-authored Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go to give managers a playbook. Join us for this great conversation which will help you develop a plan for your team, or yourself!

In this episode:

Meet Julie Winkle Giulioni

  • How the ideas in Help The Grow Or Watch Them Go grew and developed.
  • How BetterManager uses the concepts in our Master Class coaching & training.

Career Development as a "Climbing Wall"

  • People used to stay with an employer for long periods of time, and wait patiently for 18 months or two years for the organization to come pat them on the shoulder and be moved up to the next rung – there was a predictable sort of career progression.
  • Unfortunately it doesn't play out like that any longer. The workplace is wildly different. We've got downsizing & outsourcing. Boomers, are living longer and working longer as well. And work is getting done more organically, organized around needs around customers, and isn't the tiny boxes that we used to have. And then there's the whole gig economy piece.
  • How The Climbing Wall is a much better metaphor for thinking about the current state of career development.
  • You've still got the ability to go up, if that's what you want, when those opportunities are still there, but there are a gazillion ways to get from one point to another.
  • There's also tons of space laterally, to be able to make lateral moves.
  • So sometimes you have to go down a notch to move over to move up – it's more dynamic that way.
  • And If we are intentional about what we're doing within the role we're currently in, if we are able to absorb and accept opportunities & challenges, all of these things can help is grow.


  • Questions and conversations that help an individual look inward and backward at: who they are; what they do; what they love; what their natural talents and superpowers are; where their interests lie; what their values are; and maybe what they don't want to do as well.
  • All of that foundational information that you think about when you think about when helping someone in terms of their career.
  • It's also the same kind of information that we typically seek out during an employment interview!
  • Keeping that conversation going after throughout the evolving employee journey.


is a little less intuitive, because these are questions and conversations that asked individuals to think about what are the needs of the organization you know what going on in our industry, how are things changing? And even bigger than that, you know, on a more global scale, what's going on in terms of the environment, changing demographics, and geopolitical situations?

  • This may be a little less intuitive, because these are questions and conversations that asked individuals to think about: what are the needs of the organization; what's going on in our industry;  how are things changing; on a more global scale, what's going on in terms of the environment; what are the changing demographics and geopolitical situations.
  • It's the kind of stuff that you normally sort of relegate to strategic planning conversations.
  • People need the "bigger-picture" perspective.


  • Where Hindsight and Foresight overlap and intersect – that's what we call Insight.
  • That sweet spot can be mined for possibilities, opportunities, action and learning.
  • We create a win-win set of circumstances, because we're taking care of what is going to nourish the employee, what they want to do, in the context of what's going to help the business.

Implementation Considerations

  • Shorter, more consistent conversations over time convey a real commitment to the employee.
  • The process should be equally appropriate for an individual to use themselves - to take the appropriate responsibility for their own career.
  • Always be networking!

Downloads & Resources

Follow Julie on LinkedIn here.

Julie's website.

Get the Help Them Grow app for iPhone on the Apple App Store.

Get the Help Them Grow app for Android on Google Play.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

Julie Winkle Giulioni

Julie Winkle Giulioni helps organizations enhance learning, engagement, retention, and the bottom line. Her consulting firm, DesignArounds, specializes in enterprise-wide learning experiences and custom training. Named one of Inc. Magazine’s top 100 speakers, Julie has traveled from Russia to China to Lithuania and beyond helping leaders around the world help others grow. She’s a sought-after speaker for consistently delivering creative insights as well as practical takeaways that change behavior.

View the episode transcript

Wendy Hanson: So welcome, everybody. It's so great to have you here today. And I have a fabulous guest that I've been a fan of for quite a while. We are going to talk about something today that everybody needs to be thinking about their career, and that you're responsible for your career. And what are you going to do, especially during this pandemic, we may even have opportunities, we'll have to talk about that. But let me introduce my wonderful guest, Julie Winkle Giulioni.

Julie Winkle Giulioni: "Giulioni".

Wendy: Thank you. Thank goodness she's done so she can correct my pronunciation. of her name. Julie helps organizations enhance learning, engagement, retention and the bottom line. Her consulting firm, Design Arounds, specializes in enterprise wide learning experiences and custom training. Named one of Inc magazine's top 100 speakers. Wow, Julie has traveled from Russia to China to Lithuania and beyond helping leaders around the world to help others grow. She's a sought after speaker for consistently delivering creative insights as well as practical takeaways that change behavior. And we met at a conference at an HR conference and I was at in the audience and I can concur that she is a fabulous speaker and was delighted she agreed to be on the show. So welcome, Julie.

Julie: Thank you so much, Wendy. I've really been looking forward to our conversation.

Wendy: Yes, and because I'm such a huge fan. We have the book "Help Them Grow, or Watch Them Go!" has been a big part of the masterclasses that we do at BetterManager. And we actually designed a new class with a company that's rolling it out to about 1600 employees, called Career Hacks 1:1. And we were able to use some of the great concepts that we're going to talk about today to be able to get that out in the world because I think what I love about the book is really has somewhat of a coaching model to it gets you questions to get you to think and, and it's very visual, which I love. So I totally recommend it to people. It's an easy, fun read, and I'm really glad that we found it in the beginning, and now we've connected with you so.

Julie: Yes, me too. Thank you.

Wendy: So tell tell me, how did you first get the idea that this was such an important conversation that was missing at work? Tell me a little background to that.

Julie: Yeah, you know, it's interesting because it's all not it didn't come as an idea. It has really come as a theme or a thread or sort of a constant presence in my life. And this idea of career development and career conversation and support for growth. Without even knowing it, it was just the oxygen I was breathing in the environment that I had the good fortune to be in. Early in my career, I had a couple of leaders, managers, who were just natural developers of people. They just had this way of looking into your soul and your capacity, helping you figure out what you loved what you wanted to do, what you didn't want to do, and created the playground for making that happen. And so, throughout, you know, from my very first job when I was 15, until 30, like the first 15 years of work, it was just this joyful, sandbox box of development with active support from leaders around the world. Then, of course, you know, like, 30, I hit my first I was gonna say bad boss, but it's really just a normal boss, who was more concerned about the end of the business. And, and, and that was when I realized, you know, the tremendous fortune I had early on in my career where I recognized the brilliance of the leaders I've worked for and well, and the generosity of spirit. And when I realized that what they had done every day was created a space for me through conversation through a relationship for growth and development. And so, when I hit that rough spot and saw how really uncomfortable and rewarding and and, you know, energy depleting it was to not have that I really did make a decision that I wanted to move into a space of helping leaders bring that capacity to the workplace and offer that experience to others. So it's been sorted gonna, you know, it didn't it's one of those things that you don't realize until you look back and connect the dots.

Wendy: Like the water, you know, the frog in water – they don't realize.

Julie: Yes, exactly. And so what what I like to do is bring more of that water to the workplace. Because it makes such a difference in terms of the human spirit in terms of engagement in terms of retention, and bottom line results.

Wendy: And you point out such a good thing we don't know what we don't know like, you kind of thought everybody did this. You hit somebody do it, right.

Julie: Yeah. My friends would be complaining about work bosses, and I thought cash what's wrong with them? Very quickly figured out what boom, right?

Wendy: I did. I wish I knew where I heard this statistic. But I heard that at exit interviews, what comes up all the time is career development that people will put on their exit interview which were a little too late then to say no one ever asked me about my career?

Julie: Exactly. It's the number one reason people need an organization. And the number one reason people come to organizations and that process, the generational continuum, I think sometimes we think that it's more of a younger entrance to the workforce, who are, you know, in that fast track, looking for development? I did some research two years ago, it's all generations who really value learning, growth development.

Wendy: Yeah. And you probably know the answer to this. I heard it's something else that was how many times do we change careers in our lifetime? That is getting much more prevalent?

Julie: Yeah. And I think that newer entrants to the workforce, I think what I read was, it's 13 or so. Yeah, you know, that's a lot of change, isn't it? You know, really different from when we were growing up in our early day

Wendy: Hayden one for a long time. And now we It's no it's not like that. Yeah, yeah. Okay, nope. One concept that you talked about in the book that I love is that it's no longer a career ladder. But it's a climbing wall. Tell us about that. Because that is so impactful to me.

Julie: Yeah, yeah. And that really plays off of what we were just saying, you know, it used to be that folks would stay with an employer for long periods of time, sometimes their whole career and a cradle to grave. And there was a cadence, you know, you kind of wait patiently for 18 months or two years, the organization would come back down the shoulder and if I check that the next rung and there was a predictable sort of progression, when it comes to careers, unfortunately doesn't play like that any longer. You know, the workplace is wildly different than it was back in those days. You know, we've got downsizing and right sizing and outsourcing. We've got boomers, who are Not only had the audacity to live longer, but they're working longer as well, you know, taken up space in the workplace that that others were kind of hoping to move into. And work is getting done more organically, you know, work gets organized around needs around customers, it isn't quite the tiny boxes that we used to have. And then of course, there's the whole gig economy piece of it. And so, the thing that's unfortunate is many of us still have that liner stuck in our head as a mental model and the expectation for what crew development needs to look like in workplace where it can't operate like that, you know, we've got skinnier layers of management, the opportunity for upward advancement isn't as great. And so what we wanted to do in the book, my co author, okay, and I wanted to do was introduce an alternative. So if we're saying take the ladder out in your mind, get rid of that picture. We have to replace It was something that was more appropriate. And so the climbing wall seemed like the perfect metaphor for thinking about this. Because still, you've got the ability to go up, if that's what you want, when those opportunities are still there. But it's so much more relevant to today, it shows that there are a gazillion ways to get from A to F. Not just that, you know, upward progression. There's tons of space laterally, to be able to make lateral moves. And sometimes you have to go down a notch to move over to move up either so it's more dynamic that way. But the really interesting thing that we found, we decided we're gonna put in the book we better you know, go experience what what climbing looks like. The thing that blew me away was that depending upon the handhold that I might choose, just staying in place could be challenging and fun. And exhilarating. And that's what we need to bring into the workforce today into the workplace today, this idea that you don't have to go anywhere, you don't have to move to another position, you don't have to have a new title. If we are intentional about what we're doing within the role we're currently in, at Angelo is infinitely big and able to absorb and accept opportunities, challenges, all sorts of things that help us continue to grow.

Wendy: Yeah, well, that's so true. I, I remember having conversations with a company 19 years ago, that had engineers and technical people, the only way you could move up is if you became a manager. And not everybody wants to become a manager nor has the skill set to be a manager, but they can move around and be a fantastic engineer and provide great value without because that lat ladder meant becoming a manager. It was the unwritten rule.

Julie: Yeah, yeah. And unfortunately, the research reflects the technical folks who moved into management positions, were not successful and needed to step back, left the organization and took their skills back to individual contributor roles in other organizations, rather than stepping back or down in our own eye. So we actually did a lot of damage and hurt our own organizations, as we, you know, promoted folks into this management roles who weren't ready and we're well suited for them.

Wendy: Right? We just Well, hopefully we learn as we go ahead. Yes. And now we're in 2020, and a pandemic, and so many people are out there working remotely. And what are some of the insights that managers and people need to think about for their own careers and, and people on their team at this time because we're in a paradigm that we do not understand. We've never been here?

Julie: Yeah, you That's a great question. And I think something we're going to be talking about for a while. You know, I think the big thing from my perspective is, early on in this crisis, I think we all just sort of hit the pause button. We figured this was going to pass, we'll just kind of hold her breath for a little bit and get on the other side of it. Like you, I think, you know, we're sensing This is gonna go on for a while. And so this crisis, probably any crisis is not a time to just hunker down. Just try to get by and survive and Hibernate, and tough times really define leaders and managers. The chaos that the challenges, those offer exponential opportunities for development, possibilities that may never come our way again. So rather than holding our breath and just waiting it out, you know, as leaders as managers, the real opportunity is to lean into this, to really recognize that this crisis is the most powerful classroom we might ever enter, and to take full advantage of the education, you know, that that it offers. The other side of your question is What about teams and I say the same thing. I think leaders have a responsibility to talk to their teams honestly, about what this period of time offers and from a development standpoint, because either you look around organizations that are struggling to try to figure out how to keep customers how to change business models, how to how to keep the doors open up, the opportunities for team members to step up or step into these challenges, or these gaps are these voids. Enormous and it's a beautiful win. Win, because the powerful work that needs to get done gets done while helping people develop new skills and capacities and confidence and confidence along the way. And so, you know, really talking to people about development. I think employees are really needing conversations that are hopeful and future focused. And that connection, that sense of commitment that a leader demonstrates just through having conversation is in some cases, what boys a person and get some through another day.

Wendy: Yeah. And I love it makes me think about the challenge that companies are going through remaking themselves. I just listened to a fantastic podcast. How I built it, and it was about Airbnb and about how, you know they lost 80% of their business. You know, in one month, and now we're almost back to where they were last year, because they they're thinking differently. You know, they're renting houseboats and people are wanting to go away and shelter in place at an Airbnb because they're tired of being in their house. But thinking things through, it's very similar to what a manager and leader have to do. And people have to do to say, I don't mean to like your hunker down and place example. I can, this can be an opportunity to help make a difference in my company, because we all need to be thinking a little bit differently.

Julie: Yeah, that is such a great point when you haven't really thought about it, you know, organization. So where do you keep hearing his pivot? Organizations have to pivot, people have to pivot, so we have that opportunity as well. That's great.

Wendy: One of the concepts that I love that we talked about in our classes, because of you as hindsight, insight, and foresight. Good go through those for us because I think that's such A great perspective and and as we talk about this, like how to remake yourself, this is one of the keys to how to look at that.

Julie: Yes, for sure. So, you know, when my co author and I sat down to write this book on career conversations, we knew that it was one of the most important things a leader could do because of the impact it has on engagement and retention and quality and, and productivity. And yet, we also knew it wasn't happening. And so we had to reconcile that before we could get into helping folks effectively and so we did some research. What we found was the number one reason manager shared for not engaging in career development was time. They just didn't have the time. And so what we knew we needed to do was to offer a framework that would be flexible and efficient framework for having this conversation that didn't require sitting down for an hour. too, but that could actually slip into these envelopes of time and interaction that leaders might already be engaging in with your folks. And so, we step back, we looked at it. It dawned on us there are three basic components to career development related conversations.

And as you said, hindsight foresight and insight for what we call them, so kind sight are those questions or those conversations that help an individual look inward and backward, at you know, who they are and what they do and what they love and what their natural talents and superpowers are, where their interests lie, and what their values are maybe what they don't want to do as well. You know, all of that foundational information that you think about when you think about, you know, helping someone in terms of their career. It's also the same kind of information that we typically seek out during an employment interview. And it was interesting When we were doing some interviews with folks, we were asking employees, when was the last time you had a really great career conversation with your boss? And you could imagine a lot on the table that would be never. So I kind of got used to that. There was this one young man asked a question, his face started to go dark, if I own gonna, this is gonna be another one of those. And then suddenly he lit up like a Christmas tree. And he got really animated telling me all about this conversation. Now his boss just couldn't get enough of them. And they talked about how we could make a difference. And he was so alive. And so I said, when was that conversation? And he kind of scratched to suddenly say, well, as a few years ago during my employment interview, and you know, you think about it. We're so curious, when we're onboarding people bring them in, and then it's literally ended conversation. Yeah. So readers have the opportunity to keep the interview going,

Wendy: And people love when you share about themselves. And they, I, I've always found that when you speak, you actually learn more things about yourself as you're telling your own story. So his readers would realize that, wow, oh,

Julie: And the other thing is we're all evolving every single day. So the employee is different today than he or she was yesterday. And they're as to your point, they're not pausing to think you know, how they grow. They need somebody to hit the pause button for them. And so a simple question what that can do it and unlock all sorts of new insights, while also creating a deeper connection between the supervisor and the employee. So that's what hindsight is about. And that's where most people go when they think about career conversations. The foresight is a little less intuitive, because these are questions and conversations that asked individuals to think about what are the needs of the organization you know what going on in our industry, how are things changing? And even bigger than that, you know, on a more global scale, what's going on in terms of the environment, changing demographics, and geopolitical situations? You know, the kind of stuff that you normally sort of relegate to strategic planning conversations. But people need to have that bigger picture perspective. They need to have that context to be able to formulate formulate plans that drive them in a relevant direction. You know, I was reading the Institute for the future of work, do some research and 85% of the jobs that we'll be doing in the year 2030 haven't been invented yet. Wow. 85% which is a crazy statistic. And so if we're not helping as leaders, if we're not helping you, please look around the corner. Think much bigger picture and longer term. You know, we're setting them up for some, some disappointment and for being less than relevant in the future.

It always reminds me when I was a kid, five years old, I have spent summer with my grandparents in Ohio. And my grandparents worked in a department store. I got to go to work with them every day. And I learned how to drive the old fashioned elevator. You know, I spent two weeks with the elevator operator to my babysitter and she taught me how to drive that old style elevator and I came home at age five, convicted with the conviction that I was going to be an elevator operator, when I grew up, and you know, gratefully of I bumped into my aspirations, but you know, how many leaders are setting their people up to be elevator operators, right. So helping people really, you know, take off the blinders and think strategically about the business. You industry, the world is what four sides about. And then when you bring those two together where hindsight and foresight overlap and intersect, that's what we call insight. And that's that sweet spot to be mined for possibilities and opportunities and action and, and learning. And why do we bring those two together and get insight, we also create a win win set of circumstances, because we're taking care of what is going to nourish the employee what they want to do, but also the context of what's going to help the business. And so it becomes a much more sustainable way of thinking about career development. So hindsight foresight and insight, they can come together in one conversation, or you can ask just one question from either any of those categories with a real spirit of curiosity, and you're doing career development. You've got a career conversation going in five or 10 minutes.

Wendy: And you can tell people as a manager to say, you know, I'm very interested in helping you grow. So over our one on ones, you know, over the next year, I'm going to ask you some questions because I want to help you think this through. Because sometimes my experiences people don't always know where to start, where to jump in. It's like a jump rope, when, how do I get in? But tell them, I'm going to be using these. And I have made some cool questions here that are going to help you think and help me to help you grow. You know, so that's a great role for a manager.

Julie: Yeah, and that's, you know, when he really hit the nail on the head, it has to be something that we do over time with consistency for too long. We've relegated career development to that once a year conversation that you know, a manager who's got 25 direct reports has to figure it all out over the course of a week or two and get those conversations done. And we wonder why they don't go anywhere. You know, you just can't it's like brushing your teeth. You don't brush your teeth for a few hours. Well Here, I think that's going to take you, you know, until next year this time. So the shorter conversation over time, create this layered sense of understanding. And as you said, it communicates a real commitment on the part of a manager to the employee. They're not just checking the box, this is who they are. This is how they truly care.

Wendy: And, boy, if there's something that I've learned through this whole pandemic pieces empathy and compassion, and showing that care is what's really means the most to people. So this is another good example of that.

Julie: Right? Dad has been a silver lining to see the humanity that's been re-injected into the workplace as has been really heartening.

Wendy: Yeah. Now another I love that you are coming at this through how do we help managers and leaders do this more, but I'm curious too, because even in one of the our career hacks course, it we speak You're responsible for your career, you know, you can't put that on my manager is responsible for my career, you are responsible. And you can use hindsight and foresight and insight yourself. You know, give us a little bit more on that. Like, I'm responsible for my career and I go to work every day. What are some of the things that I can do to make sure that I'm growing and using my strengths? And how do those conversations go?

Julie: Yeah, yeah. So many of the questions that are in the book and in the the card deck that accompanies the book, they're equally appropriate for, for an individual to, to use with themselves. So nothing wrong with doing a little pre thinking about your own hindsight foresight and insight. And talking with your colleagues and preparing for even richer conversations with your boss, but that sense of ownership really is key with the support, of course of the organization and the manager. A lot of it has to do with a couple of different things, individuals to look at what's within their sphere of influence to make happen. So individual might not be able to sign themselves up for the Gator cool management development course in your organization or the off side of that kind of thing. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to development. What the individual can do is talk to other people and gather feedback, get other people's perspectives about how they're doing, what they're doing, how they can improve. That's development and completely within the purview of an individual to seek out what an individual can do his own coaching relationships, and finding people in the organization but also outside of the organization, who can provide some insight can ask them some provocative questions can hold them accountable to the goals and, and actions that they commit to. And then finally, they can as individuals, what we can all do is look around and figure out what experiences can I cultivate, that will allow me to grow while also contributing to the organization. So what voids exist? What problems are there meeting solving, you know what meetings need to be covered, even using your outside volunteer time and activity and really mining that for growth and development. As individuals. There's a huge swath of activity that we can invite into our current role. And most organizations, most leaders will welcome it if it also serves the organization,

Wendy: Right. I always think, always be networking. Working internally and externally, because we get stuck in, I worked with a company once where it's an unusual setup right now that they've all been there a long time, we used to laugh about, you know, this, this team as like 230 years experience, you know. But if you think about what we have to get out of our own, just tunnel vision, and look outside and learn some more from what's going on, is so you know, this is how other people do it. Oh, isn't that great? We're so lucky at BetterManager because we have a team of fantastic coaches that are learning all the time from the people and the executives and the leaders and the managers that they coach. And then they bring that back and say, here's a good idea that so and so said, and here's how we might be able to do mentoring, and here's what's happening here. So we get to keep all that information coming in and, and keeping things vital because what we know right now is the only thing that we can count on is change. And if we're trying to count on something else, we're really barking up the wrong tree because things are going to change. And we need to be in this good position to be able to look at it as an opportunity and not get scared away. Just like something started the beginning of this conversation like that don't get stuck. I don't know if that's the exact word you use, but we've got to be open and creative and innovative as a manager and plus, as an individual.

Julie: Well said.

Wendy: Well, Julie, it has been delightful to talk to you and learn from you. And if people want to learn more about you and and for those that are listening to this on audio, you can't see that I'm holding up the book but help them grow or watch them go is a fantastic book. Go on and get that and how else can people get in touch with you and we'll have information in the show notes too, Julie?

Julie: Oh, thank you. I'm always available on my website at JulieWinkleGiuliani.com and for leaders are individuals who want to just get in the habit of thinking about talking about career development. We also have a free app on the Apple and the Android stores, it's just helped them grow and it pings you with a question a day to reflect on, or to ask those around you to start to get into a cadence and thinking about career development on a regular basis.

Wendy: Well, I hope we can do a follow up with you next year. Let's do a part two, this is fun, and see where we are in 2021.

Julie: Let's do it.

Wendy: Okay. Thank you, Julie. Thank you all for tuning in. It's been been wonderful to be able to think about our careers and our responsibilities as managers. So have a wonderful day and stay safe.

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