Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go

Book Review By Susan Britton Whitcomb

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni, 2012, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 144 pages, $17.96 (paperback)

ISBN 978-1609946326


With Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, authors Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni provide managers at every level of an organization, as well as career development professionals, fresh insights and practical tools to bring career development conversations front-and-center. The book is primarily intended for management ranks, yet is also useful to experienced career professionals employed within organizations or external career advisors consulting organizations.


The authors propose that, at its foundation, career development is simply “helping others grow,” and that managers can create a culture of career development within their organizations through intentional and quality conversations with their employees. These conversations should be designed to facilitate insights and awareness, explore possibilities and opportunities, and inspire responses that drive employee-owned action.


Kaye and Giulioni advocate that managers shift from an old paradigm of sitting down with an employee for a two-hour conversation and mapping out a career plan for the year, to, instead, doing the same thing in a dozen, 10-minute conversations over the year. They cite several compelling benefits of the new paradigm:


  • Shorter conversations fit better with the cadence of business today.

  • Frequent, ongoing dialogue communicates a genuine commitment to the employee and development.

  • Iterative conversations allow employees to layer awareness, insights, and action more naturally.

  • The ongoing nature of the conversation keeps development alive in everyone’s mind (vs. tucking it away for a formal meeting).

  • These frequent exchanges sustain momentum, fuel progress, and act as an ongoing reminder of the organization’s commitment to employee learning, growth, and progress.”


Three distinct types of career development conversations are suggested: hindsight, foresight, and insight.


  • Hindsight conversations are those that help employees look backward and inward to determine who they are, where they’ve been, what they love, and where they excel.

  • Foresight conversations are designed to keep employees looking forward and outward toward changes, trends, and the ever-evolving big picture.

  • Insight conversations are an outgrowth of the hindsight and foresight conversations, culminating in action steps.


The book is divided into nine chapters: Develop Me or I’m History; Can We Talk?; Let Hindsight Light the Way; Feed Me; What’s Happening?; If Not Up…Then What?; Same Seat, New View; Advancing Action; and Grow with the Flow. Within those chapters, Kaye and Giulioni show readers how to embed career development into everyday life through heightened awareness and fluid conversation strategies. Practical exercises are offered with regularity, such as “back to the future,” quarterly check-ups, and the “never-ending” interview. Each chapter ends with thought-provoking “What if…” questions to create awareness for the manager and employee. Models are succinct and memorable, such as the “3e Model” for offering employees tangible “how’s” to move from insight to implementation:


  • Expand education to being open to a variety of learning avenues.

  • Enable exposure to others who can teach, mentor, and coach.

  • Explore experience that will unlock opportunities to learn on the spot.


In a world where managers are pressed for time, the book is a fast and easy read with its visually engaging page design. Chapters feature creative call-out boxes, hints, “try this” suggestions, employee quotes (offered in anonymity) about what employees really want from managers, and in-the-trenches stories about what is working (and not) in career development conversations.


It’s no surprise that Kaye and Giulioni underscore the point that developing talent is one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement within an organization, and that employee engagement is key to revenue, profitability, innovation, productivity, customer loyalty, quality, and cycle time reduction. With this book, they have helped equip not only career professionals but millions of managers to unlock that key. Applause, applause!


Susan Whitcomb

Susan Whitcomb is the award-winning author of seven career and job search books and is founder of the career development and coach training organization, The Academies, including Career Coach Academy, Leadership Coach Academy, and Job Search Academy. She can be reached at www.TheAcademies.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SusanWhitcomb.TheAcademies.


Meet Susan Whitcomb at the NCDA Regional Career Institute in Chicago, October 4-6, 2012. Her sessions are listed below. See the NCDA website for complete details, including Registration information (best by mid-September).

Professional Development Institute #2:
Yes-But' Rut: Brain-Based Solutions that Shift Job Seekers from Procrastination, Anxiety and Fear ... and onto the Path of Productivity, Action and Success!

Friday, October 5: 8:00 am – 12:00 pm


Opening General Session
Friday, October 5: 1:00 – 2:30 pm

How the Coach Approach Creates Engaged Jobseekers, Thriving Practitioners & Legacy Leaders (Susan Whitcomb, The Academies)
Unemployment and Mental Health: Helping Clients Cope with Loss and Uncertainty (David Blustein, Boston College)

As career counselors working on the front lines during the Great Recession know, the psychological toll of this crisis is extensive and often devastating for clients and their families.  This presentation will provide a brief overview of how counselors can help clients manage the full range of emotional reactions to unemployment, underemployment, and the job search.  Using ideas from the psychology-of-working perspective, the presentation will summarize recommendations for assessing clients’ resources and barriers.  Specific counseling interventions will be reviewed, which are designed to enhance the internal and external resources available to clients as they regain their confidence and control in managing their work lives and their psychological well-being.  

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