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ATD Blog

The Reason Promotions Are Overrated

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

ATD22 News sat down with Julie Winkle Giulioni to talk about her new book, Promotions Are So Yesterday. Among the questions we asked her was why she calls promotions overrated. Read her response below. Listen to the full interview below.

(Read full transcript)

Well, I think we would all agree that the world of work has changed. Our relationship with work has changed, though, as well. Even before the pandemic, we were already kind of internalizing a gig mentality. Employees are going to have 12 jobs over the course of their career. But then the pandemic hit, and we had a chance to sort of step back and get some perspective—reshape our priorities. And people are coming back to work with a new set of expectations and new things they want their jobs to do for them.

And so despite all of these changes, what happens is there’s something about career development that just hijacks the brain and takes it to these pictures of ladders and org charts and expectations that we’re going to be moving around the checkerboard of the organization. Intellectually, we know that there are fewer and fewer of those opportunities as we move up the pecking order. Intellectually, we know that now in a hybrid and a remote world, even the geographic boundaries that used to exist have now dropped, so there’s more competition for those few promotions and role changes and moves that are available. And yet, when career development comes up, that’s kind of where the mind goes.

And so as I was sitting down to write the first chapter, but then the whole book Promotions Are So Yesterday, it’s really clear to me that, for the most part, we are limiting ourselves. We’re operating from this limited vocabulary that we've had around career and career development.

The Inuits have 53 different words for that white stuff we call snow. And I think when it comes to career development, we've been operating under a really similar set of limitations in terms of our vocabulary. We know careers are bigger than just promotions, but we haven’t had way to talk about their bigness beyond those moves. And so promotions are overrated because we have defined career development so narrowly in this way for so long that we have ended up narrowing what’s possible in terms of our development and the development of others.

And so what that chapter and the rest of the book basically unpacks is it’s really time to move beyond the one-dimensional and the two-dimensional ways we’ve been thinking about career development and look at it from a much more multidimensional Folsom-sort of perspective.

Pick up your copy of Promotions Are So Yesterday in the ATD Store (West Lobby B) or at

About the Author

ATD22 News is your source for news, updates, and session coverage for ATD's 2022 International Conference & EXPO.

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