Progression ≠ Promotion 📈

Progressing in your career is way more then just a promotion

Furquan Ahmad

Furquan Ahmad


January 14, 2024

January 14, 2024

Performance season is in full swing. I just wanted to wrap up some top of mind thoughts for people to take into the year about how promotions ≠ progression.

Why it matters?

Your career is a journey, and promotions are just one milestone along the way.There’s a big performance based culture at Meta and tech in general, everyone around you is focused and talking about ratings, getting to the next level it’s easy to get swarmed into this black box way of thinking.

Framing progression

  • Progression could mean that you get better at some specific skill that was holding you back from promotion (maybe you improved your product thinking and strategy skills or your craft and execution skills).

  • But also, progression could mean that you’re better able to manage your day, so you have the same impact in a shorter amount of time (and have more time for things that could fill in your other goals ).

  • Or, progression could mean that you’re better able to manage your feelings about work, so you feel less stressed (and have more emotional bandwidth for things that could fill in your ).

Looking for inspiration

Not going for a promotion can feel isolating
Throughout the year all the designers around me can’t stop talking about going for promotion, you really feel quite isolated where you’re the only one not focused on promotion.

I’ve always been focused on gaining specific skillsets and working on projects I enjoy.

Being intentional in the skills you want to grow
Last half I wanted to focus on community building, paving the way for Gen AI and execute on larger projects. I learnt so much about and managed to successfully ship and implement some really cool stuff.

If I was going for a promotion there are specific behaviours you have to demonstrate to get this, and there will be particular projects dictated to you to pickup.

Not as sustainable and quite erratic

From my observation people that are laser focused for promotions, hustle really hard for them. Take on as much as they can to demonstrate the behaviours for the next level.

The productivity drop once they get a promo:

The decline in productivity after individuals receive a promotion is quite noticeable. Once they achieve their goal, they tend to become less motivated and more complacent.

Their focus shifts from striving for promotion to contemplating what their next objective should be. Should they aim for the next level?

However, as performance season approaches once again, people regain some motivation and work to ensure they are performing at the expected level…

If you’re focused on improving yourself and doing work you enjoy, with teammates you like, your productivity and output will be way less erratic.

Not equal to being more happy

It doesn’t equal to being more happy, you have to take on more responsibility, are you willing to do this? If you’re already operating at that level then make sure you get the pay packet you deserve.

"Some of the designers/researchers I know who had promotions this year were significantly unhappier than before!"

--Staff designer at Meta

Burnout eventually

People that are motivated by promotions carry on going for the next level and try and operate at that peak but it’s only sustainable for a certain amount of years as you compromise on the other parts of your life.

Your career is a journey, and promotion is just a means

Life is full of epic twists and turns. Promotions are not a break in routine that start an epic adventure. Promotions are not going to be the tipping point of stories.

There are definitely exceptions to this. I know that for some people, promotions do materially change their job and prospects. So, I don't speak for everyone here, just myself.

Factors that contribute to this

Personally, I feel like working in an environment where most people are on sponsored visas and have come to Meta to work, the hustle drive is amplified, and the consequences of losing your job are heightened, especially if you're on a sponsored visa.

Find contentment outside of work

Having a stronger faith and belief is crucial. Having hobbies and interests to look forward to and progress in, and spending time with family and friends, brings a different fulfillment that work will never be able to match.

One dimension of your life

When we progress in our jobs, it can later be recognized with a promotion (we have lagging promotions at Meta). And that's great, especially if that's how you wanted to progress. However, job promotion is a milestone that marks growth in one dimension of your life, which is the most important thing.


I think it's a privilege to not always be in the position where you're focused on promotions, but it's very important to remember to look beyond what progression means for you.

The main reason I want to go for a promotion this year is to make sure that I'm being compensated correctly for the work I'm doing, which is also super important.

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© furquan101 2024


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© furquan101 2024