Episode 25 – Season 2

Published: June 22, 2022

Julie Winkle Giulioni, Author and Leadership Speaker | The alternative to promotion and why it could improve wellbeing at work

Ian is joined by Julie Winkle Giulioni author of “Promotions Are So Yesterday: Redefine Career Development. Help Employees Thrive.”  This book follows on from the international bestseller “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want.”  which Julie co-authored

Julie is an Inc. Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker, Julie is a regular columnist for Training Industry Magazine and SmartBrief, and contributes articles on leadership, career development, and workplace trends to numerous publications including The Economist.

She is also a champion for workplace growth and development and helps leaders optimize talent and potential within their organizations with consulting keynote speeches, and training.

In this episode of the Workplace wellbeing podcast, Ian and Julie discuss her new book, what the alternatives to promotion are and how taking a different route could be positive for wellbeing at work,

Julie and Ian Discuss:

  • Both of Julie’s books
  • Why are promotions so yesterday?
  • The 7 alternatives to Promotion
  • How to discuss promotion v the alternatives in your business

What’s Inspiring Julie?

The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness Gregory boyle

How to get in touch with Julie:


Promotions Are So Yesterday: Redefine Career Development. Help Employees Thrive

 Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Organizations Need and Employees Want

The Workplace Wellbeing Podcast is supported by The Worktech Group, which owns, ShopWorksFastPAYE and Solvedby.ai


Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast, the podcast for wellbeing professionals that looks at best practices in organisations that care about their people, and which keeps an eye on the growing number of suppliers in the wellbeing space.

The Workplace Wellbeing Podcast is sponsored by fastPAYE a financial wellbeing solution that facilitates flexible salary advances. It also provides access to financial education, a benefits assessment calculator, and a host of other financial wellbeing tools. fastP.A.Y.E is part of the WorkTech Group that includes ShopWorks Workforce Solutions, and SolvedBy.Ai.

ShopWorks offers Scheduling and Time and Attendance tools that improve your workforce management processes. Whilst SolvedBy.Ai provides unique artificial intelligence products that deliver optimum staffing levels and improve employee retention.

Ian Hogg 0:58
Hi, welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast. I’m Ian Hogg, Chairman of fastPAYE.

Ian Hogg 0:56
Hi, and welcome to the workplace wellbeing Podcast. I’m in hog chairman of fast pay and today I’m very pleased to be joined by Julie Winkle Judy oni also have promotions are so yesterday. This book follows on the international bestseller, help them grow or watch them go, which Julie co-authored Julis, an Inc Magazine top 100 leadership speaker and a regular economist for training industry magazine and Smartbrief. And she contributes articles on leadership, career development and workplace trends to numerous publications including an economist. She’s also a champion for workplace growth and development. Julie helps leaders optimise talent and potential within their organisations. So in today’s episode of the workplace wellbeing podcast, I want to discuss Judy’s new book, what the promotion of the alternative is, and how taking a different route could be positive for well being at work. Hi, Julie, thanks for joining us

Julie Winkle Giulioni 1:54
Hi Ian and I’m delighted to be with you.

Ian Hogg 1:56
Where am I speaking to from at the moment?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 1:59
We’re in South Pasadena in Southern California, a beautiful sunshiny day here.

Ian Hogg 2:04
Very nice. It’s a little bit grey here in London, but I won’t be too jealous. So listen, why don’t we start where we always do? And may I ask you to tell the listeners a bit about your background? And maybe if you could tell us a bit about your first book as well, you know, help them grow or watch them go?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 2:21
You bet you bet. So I’ve been a teacher my whole life. In my very first job I was teaching children. And from there, it just kind of my audience just kept growing. I taught high school and at the university level was a professor and department chair. Before going back into the industry and working in training and development. For the lion’s share of my career. I was the manager of training and development for a couple of different organisations. And my last internal job was with a large training company thing or Miller, which became achieved global which became several other things since it is now part of Korn Ferry.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 3:01
But that last role was really instructive. I was a director of product development. And so I had the opportunity to lead teams and to build products, training products that were used by managers all over the world. And so that was a great springboard for me to then launch my own business and do similar work building training and development programmes and systems for organisations around the world. And, and so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 or 20 or so years. And it’s been almost 10 years ago that my co-author of helped them grow or watch them go Beverly Kay, and I were both observing, you know, this the landscape around career development. And what we were noticing was there was such a compelling business case for managers and organisations to engage in career development. There was a huge human case for it, people were craving it, and yet it just, wasn’t happening. And so Ben and I did some research to try to get to the bottom of that what we really learned was one of the number one impediments for leaders was they just didn’t feel like they had the time to do it. And so help them grow was really written as a, an opportunity to reframe career development to transform how people look at it from being a task, you know, yet another to do on a list that gets moved down, because managers are so busy transforming from a task to a relationship, to change it from an event into an ongoing conversation. And so that first book created a conversational framework that’s really flexible, that gives managers a way of thinking about career development differently and embedding it into the natural workflow more organically.

Ian Hogg 4:56
Okay, this I mean, the title sounds very appropriate for now. You almost sound like the sub, the subtitle could be, you know, help them grow or watch them go, how to mitigate the risk of the great resignation? Would you say that it’s appropriate?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 5:10
I would absolutely say that I have to tell you I talk daily with managers and leaders who are struggling with a retention issue. And the common thread among those who seem to be staying afloat? Is that dialogue that they’re engaged in with, with their people, that ongoing conversation, the connection that they’ve created? So yeah, right on.

Ian Hogg 5:38
Okay, well, you were 10 years ahead of the game. So what? So promotions are so yesterday? So is the current book, can you give, just give us a short overview of the book? Um, you know why you wrote it?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 5:49
Yeah. Because basically, career development continues to be a source of significant dissatisfaction for employees. When you talk to folks, you hear about it, when I look at climate surveys and engagement surveys in organisations, career development is always there at the bottom. So that’s one sort of factor input to writing the new book. The other thing was, as I’ve talked with, and done a lot of training around, help them grow, or watch them go with managers, folks really appreciate having some new conversational skills and approaches. But they felt like Okay, now that I’m having these great conversations, where do I take them? What do I do with them? How do I move this on to the next level, it felt like there was a need for kind of part two, and I guess, the third real input was what I’ve noticed, and I wonder if you’ve noticed it to career development is almost like a trigger phrase? For many people, they hear career development, and it just it hijacks the brain, and it takes them immediately to this place of climbing that corporate ladder. And, and so we’re conflating inappropriately, this idea of promotions with development. And so I really felt that it was time to expand the definition of what career development is so that we could expand the options that are available to people and to managers to be able to co-create meaningful experiences that, you know, to the point of, of this podcast, build greater well being into the workplace.

Ian Hogg 7:39
Yeah, I think, no, I think you’re right. I think traditionally, it has been perceived, as you know if we’re going to develop somebody’s career, it means putting a manager in front of their title or head off or something along those lines. But I think, you know, I’m, I think I’ve definitely seen people that they want personal development may be more now where they want to, you know, be involved in bigger projects, or more complex problems, or bigger teams or more exciting projects, or learning new skills?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 8:09
Oh, absolutely. I totally agree. And we, we don’t have a lot of language around that we know what promotion is, we know what a move is, what a new position is, what a new title is. But we don’t managers, and employees don’t have a lot of language around what you were just talking about.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 8:28
And so that’s sort of what the book was intended to do is offer some, some language, some framing for conversations that allow folks to create opportunities to grow that are within the control of managers and suit and employees, because promotions, I mean, employees and managers have very little control over that. So how can we take control of what’s within our sphere of influence? And that it’s exactly those kinds of things? You were just a numerating.

Ian Hogg 8:57
Okay. And, and in terms of, you know, that if if you believe that, you know, promotions are so yes, you know, what’s, what’s the impact of keeping promoting people, you know, to it, what’s the harm in doing it putting manager in front of somebody title, you know, what, why should I?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 9:14
Well, and there is no harm in doing that. I mean, let’s be clear promotions and that upward climb, that’s going to continue to be part of the workplace, that’s not going to go away, there will be the need for people to be promoted and moved around to different positions. You know, I guess if I had a really big book and the title could have gone on from here to Nebraska, it would have been promotions or so yesterday as the exclusive way of thinking about career development. You know, there are times in everyone’s career when the promotion is the absolute right focus for their growth.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 9:49
And yet, because we don’t have control over that, we need to be looking at what else is available that we have control over,

Julie Winkle Giulioni 9:58
okay? And so if promotions are so yesterday. What? What is the alternative? Yeah, yeah. So what is today? And what is tomorrow? Yeah, exactly becomes the question. So what I’ve noticed is that over the last couple of years that of course, you know, we’re seeing the results of that in the great resignation. I think that’s a result of a great reevaluation that a lot of us are going through, you know, we’ve had the opportunity to step back to hit the pause button a little bit and to think about what do I want? What jobs do I want my job to do for me? And so even before the pandemic, I was doing field research, you know, just talking to everyone I encounter to say, what does career mean to you? And the product of those conversations became what I refer to as the multidimensional career framework, which is at the heart of the new book, promotions are so yesterday.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 10:56
And what it lays out are seven alternatives to promotion. So it’s not, you know, it’s not that promotions are going away. But promotions are one of eight different ways managers and employees can work together toward growth. And so what so today, and what’s going to be so tomorrow is not just talking about careers in terms of promotions, but to talk about them in terms of these other seven dimensions. And can I go ahead and just share that?

Ian Hogg 11:28
Yeah, no, that was gonna be my next question. You beat me to it, go for it.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 11:33
So the alternatives to climbing that corporate ladder are things like contribution, people want to step up and do more and make a difference and be of service and leave a legacy that’s within the control of managers and employees to find ways to elevate contribution. employees want to build greater competence. I mean, we know the half-life of technical skills is what five years now 85% of the jobs we’re going to be doing in the year 2030 haven’t been invented. People know that they need to be growing their capacity and becoming more competent, not just to do well today, but to be ready and future proof their careers for tomorrow. People want greater connection. And there’s tremendous growth and development, you know, you frequently hear that expression. It’s not what you know, to you know, building connection building networks, creating a sense of community has great growth and engagement opportunities for folks. We found people want greater confidence, they want to feel like they’re really mastering it, that they’ve got this in the workplace. And, you know, so many of us will struggle with the imposter syndrome. And that lack of confidence can be a real ceiling on our growth and development. People want to grow through the challenge as you were talking about stepping up and doing something bigger, different or more complex. And there’s tremendous growth there. When we step into the discomfort zone, we have contentment, which fits so perfectly into our conversation about well being here. Contentment is something that managers and employees can also focus on developing together, when you look at how long employees are going to be working, you know, new entrants to the workplace, I mean, they’re going to have 40 50 years to work, it can’t be a hard-charging sprint, there are times that you got to take your foot off the gas, and find ways to have meaning and balance and joy and ease. People want greater choice, you know, more decision making more flexibility, more autonomy. And then the eighth dimension is still the climb of that corporate ladder. Because, again, there are going to be times in all of our careers where that is the appropriate next step. But when it’s not possible, when it’s not available, you’ve got so much more room to manoeuvre when you think about those other seven dimensions.

Ian Hogg 14:02
Good. Thank you for explaining those, I suppose. Yeah, just as you as you were speaking, I was thinking, I’m sure we’ve all had examples of this, but where we’ve promoted somebody or even we ourselves have been promoted, and you weren’t quite ready for it. And actually, you then create a really awkward situation for everyone, don’t you? So you’ve got somebody who may be slightly out of their depth, maybe struggle with a new role. You had a great team member before and you’ve now got a problem on your hands. So that’s one thing that I could see. But as you were discussing the seven alternatives and promotion, you know, is there some sort of route use you sort of foreseeing where you could still promote somebody but you go through some of these other steps First, to get somebody ready for promotion? I, you know, they, you know, rather than just promote them because they’re good. You analyse what’s required before they’re promoted, and you develop that person into that into the skills and sets required to do your seven alternatives sort of cover that sort of that gap?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 15:03
Absolutely. And yeah, I think you really nailed that, you know, we don’t do anybody any favours promoting them prematurely into a role that’s not going to be either a good fit or where they’re not going to be able to perform adequately. And I know here in the US, there’s been some research that technical folks who are promoted to that next level and don’t do well, they get there, and they realise I don’t even want to do this kind of work, don’t do well there, they’re more apt to leave that organisation and go back to an individual contributor role in another organisation, rather than take a step back in their organisation, which you know, makes tonnes of sense. So there’s a real danger associated with prematurely putting someone into that kind of a leadership role.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 15:52
And so, absolutely, but other C’s are great strategies to shore up skills, to build experiences to make sure folks have their, their network and their relationships really solid, that they’re ready to step up to the challenges. And that’s kind of the beauty of having those other dimensions of those other development dimensions that be my shorthand is C’s, just because they all start with C. But the other thing that’s really interesting is, and this was some research out of the UK, that a lot of it, we frequently think people want to move into a leadership role because they want to have control over others. And the truth is, a lot of the motivation for that is wanting to have more control of ourselves. So more choice, more autonomy, more flexibility, freedom, or whatever. And, of course, you know, we’ve both been managers, you know, simply having that title does not mean you’ve got any more control over here.

Ian Hogg 16:58
You’re between a rock and a hard place, then.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 17:00
Yeah, exactly, exactly. And so one of the things I talked to a lot of managers back about when they’re, they’re engaging in conversations with employees who want to move up, is really talking about what’s the motivation, what’s animating that interest. Because frequently, folks don’t even know, you know, it’s just the reflexive. Well, that’s the next step. That’s, you know, what mom and dad expected me to do.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 17:27
And that sort of thing. And if we can start to unpack what the real motivation is, maybe they do really want to have some more flexibility and autonomy, then go into that choice dimension, unpack that with them, see where there is the ability to flex, and have more balance, or whatever it might be. Or maybe they’re just really feeling like they want to contribute more. And that’s what’s animating the desire to move up the ladder, go to contribution and look at, okay, so where can you step up, you don’t have to have a new title behind your name, in order to make a new difference from the seat that you’re currently in. So the other C’s really do give you, as you indicated, a toolkit of options to help shore folks up and also maintain their satisfaction and their engagement. When there’s a natural low among those, you know, moved up the ladder,

Ian Hogg 18:31
I think, yeah, one of the other things you just said that just sparked a thought was increased contribution. So one of the ways that I think we see in a more sort of matrix management style, where people are working cross-department and cross-function is you might give somebody responsibility where they get a leadership bowl, but not as a promotion. So they don’t become head of the department, but they might be leading the project or leading this workshop, or leading a long term workshop where they, you know, the, you know, they might be working on the company’s values and be part of that team. Or they might be, you know, senior lead or senior product input for a particular project. I think we definitely, at our company, you know, that’s the way that we, we definitely get people involved more. And I think we help people develop some leadership skills by giving them that experience as well. Would that fit in with your, with your model?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 19:28
Without a doubt, you know, informal leadership opportune? I think we need to think about leadership, less as a position and more as a skill set and a way of contributing and operating within an organisation. So without a doubt, offering those opportunities for people to step up and stretch themselves and engage in those kinds of development experiences is really key. And, and the important part of it for leaders and what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle here. We, we create this opportunity and we empower someone to now lead a new initiative, whatever it might be. And then we forget that the original intention was development. It’s like the work that’s getting done gets in the foreground, and the development falls away in the background. And pretty soon, the employee is just feeling like, Okay, now I’ve just got more work. And so as a leader, one of the keys to making this work is to ensure that the development stays in the foreground as well, that when we’re having one on ones and checking in on that project, we’re making them part of the conversation around and what are you learning as a result of doing this? What can you do now that you couldn’t do before? Where have you fallen down, picked yourself up and figured out a different way to do it, we’ve got to make sure that we’re balancing that so that development doesn’t just become drudgery and more work?

Ian Hogg 21:02
That’s a really valid point. I think I’m, I’m guilty as charged? You know, I think it is, I think we’re in our company, we’re reasonably good at trying to encourage people with different leadership roles and different projects and trying to mix other people get involved in them.

Ian Hogg 21:20
But are we any good? You know, from looking in the mirror? Do we actually go back? And then ask them whether they felt developed by it? Or do we look for the output of the project or for the, you know, the leadership role? So yeah, I think we could definitely, definitely improve that. I think that’s good advice, Julie.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 21:38
Oh, and, you know, employees are as busy as the leaders and managers are. And so it’s hard for them to hit the pause button and step back and think, Okay, what am I learning today. So as leaders, we really need, to model the discipline and help them ultimately internalise some discipline around that unpacking of whatever the experience is to make sure that they’re really extracting the insights and the lessons, otherwise, we just get into a lot of activity, but, you know, the learning and the development gets lost,

Ian Hogg 22:12
I think, I think another thing that you sparked your muscles was just the control element, you know, if people are looking to get promoted because they want more control and more flexibility, you definitely lack control, and lack of flexibility are key causes of stress at work, aren’t they? You know, and, and we can’t promote everybody, even if even if we’re promotion driven organisation, you know, there’s still some sort of pyramid element to it. So actually, you know, some of your alternatives, you know, I could see adding quite a lot of value to reducing stress, giving people more control than people solve their own problems, rather than having them in the post the solutions impose that sort of stuff.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 22:53
Absolutely, yeah, that dimension of choice is really powerful, especially, you know, as organisations are calling people back to the workplace after having, you know, scattered to the winds and whatnot, you know, there really is an opportunity to shift control and choice and autonomy. And a lot of organisations are really at the forefront of figuring out how can we let people have more autonomy over where they were, when they were, how they do their work. And, as you know, I mean, there’s a real connection thereto, to satisfaction, employee satisfaction and well being not good, but really good points.

Ian Hogg 23:35
So let’s suppose now, in my workplace, you know, I was trying to look for alternative promotions, either because I was trying to improve well being or because, you know, I, you know, I could see it as a situation, as I said, there’s a bit of a pyramid, not everybody can be promoted, you might have more people want it, then you can offer it to, you know, how do you start, you know, surveying your team and understanding where, where they are, and understanding what, what works for individuals, and how would you manage that within a larger organisation?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 24:08
Gotcha, gotcha. And you’re right on the whole nature of the pyramid, the hierarchical organisation, just the narrowing. The mechanics of that is there aren’t enough promotions if that’s how you’re going to define career development to develop everyone. Additionally, you don’t know if you’re seeing this, a lot of the organisations that I’m working with are creating broader bands, rather than having a level 5.1 point two with three and whatnot that offered a sort of that incremental promotion. They’re just going with fives, and, you know, a broader band there. So. So it really is time to start engaging with people around a broader definition. We can’t keep conflating career development with those promotions exclusively.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 24:59
So the first thing is to orient, you know, team members to the broader definition to some of these other dimensions, we did some research. And what was really interesting when people are when you just lay these dimensions out, and you ask people to rank them from one of my most interested in pursuing from a growth standpoint down to when I’m least interested in what was quite stunning, from the research is that contribution and competence, were one in two, across all age ranges.

Ian Hogg 25:34
I know, I know, group seven, you know, like, some people don’t, you know, some people might be more, you know, detail focus or somebody might be more creative. But even across those sort of different sort of personality types, you get the same sort of results.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 25:49
We didn’t ask we didn’t profile people that way. So but it was just across the board from 20 somethings to 60 Somethings, contribution and competence were the top two. And with one age group exception, the climb up the corporate ladder was dead last. And that one group was the 20 Something group, their last item was choice, and the climb was right above it. But in aggregate, once we put everybody together, the climb was dead last. And for managers, that’s a surprise and a really hopeful bit of information. Because so many managers think that’s what everybody wants, that that’s all they want. And so managers avoid having conversations sometimes because they don’t have that. And, and employees are interested in the whole range of other development dimensions. So the first thing to do is to orient folks to this broader framework, I kind of think of it as a menu now that we can put out there that doesn’t just have that one item, but now you’ve got eight to choose from at any given time. In the book, we have a self-assessment that can be used. And we have an online and digital self-assessment as well. So if I were a manager of an organisation, I would encourage people to just go take that free assessment online, get this personalised report that shares what your most interesting dimension is, after answering a bunch of questions, kind of ranks them so the individual can see how, okay, I’m most interested in connections, and then it goes down from there.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 27:35
And then that becomes the basis for a really rich conversation, when an employee is willing to bring that chart into a conversation and talk to a manager about you know, here’s what really resonates for me, right now I need to share someday I want to have a promotion. But right now I really need a greater challenge, you know, how can we build that into the job, it’s a game-changer, you know, in terms of employee satisfaction, engagement, and well being in terms of the quality of the relationship with the manager, and in terms of the opportunity to engage and retain that employee longer.

Ian Hogg 28:13
Yeah, and so I’m going to be safe and ideally, that if I, if I do that survey with all my team, all my, my company, I’m not gonna have everybody say I want to climb as their number one. I’m not gonna try a huge problem.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 28:30
I know, I every time I do a workshop, I will have people do the self-assessment, and then I’ll pull up a poll and say, what’s your number one, and every time I kind of hold my breath and think, Okay, finally, it’s, it’s all going to go upside down. And I’ve got to tell you, I have not had one group where the climb is number one. Now maybe it’s been not dead last for certain organisations, certain cultures, whatever. But it’s never been first there’s been a lot more to work with. And then the other thing is, even when the climb is first, you’re gonna have people who want to climb. I mean, there’s just no way around that. And so the key is, if either they’re not ready, or there’s not a position ready for them, you know, it’s just not available, then the key is, okay, how can we leverage those other dimensions, to keep you growing, to keep you engaged to keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you with us?

Ian Hogg 29:32
It’s excellent, I think I’ve I’ve got a good understanding now of the, you know, the concept and the alternatives. And I’m pleased if I do my survey that I’m you know, I’m not gonna have 60 Odd promotions in the company in short notice. But as we come to the end, you know, you’ve obviously written two great books around personal and career development. But one of the questions I’ve got I ask everyone is what book or media is giving you the most inspiration?

Julie Winkle Giulioni 30:00
At the moment, right now it’s on the bedside table that I’m just savouring every night is a book called The whole language. It’s by Father Gregory Boyle, who is the founder of Homeboy Industries here in Southern California. It’s one of the most effective gang intervention and rehab organisations around, and he’s just a remarkable writer. He’s done amazing work in the space of rehabilitating and reentry for gang members. But it’s just super touching and funny and heartbreaking. But so inspirationally stories of people who, man they had so much going against them and it found the will to make really significant changes in their lives. Okay, this sounds like a great book. We’ll definitely put the link to that in the podcast notes. And I take it I can, I’m good to put your LinkedIn profile in the podcast notes. And if people want to get in touch with you to talk about the content, your book or your ideas, happy about that I would love that talking about these ideas is is what I love doing most these days. So important for leaders to really think differently about how they develop their folks. Now probably more than ever,

Ian Hogg 31:23
Julie, listen, that was a great, great addition. Great episode. Thank you very much for your input.

Julie Winkle Giulioni 31:29
Thank you, Ian

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