Are Your Expectations For A Promotion Realistic?

Posted September 26, 2020 by Mark Perna

A new study reveals how long you may have to wait to move up the ranks. Mark’s article, “Are Your Expectations For A Promotion Realistic?,” published at on September 22, 2020.

Can leadership be learned—or is it something you’re born with? Put another way, is leadership a skill or a trait?

Posed this question in a recent Nulab study, 71% of respondents said it was a skill. But nuances exist among generations: Baby Boomers (32%) and Generation-X (33%) were more likely to define leadership as a trait, while just over 1 in 4 Millennials identified leadership as a trait rather than a skill (26%).

These days, many Millennials may be learning leadership skills on the job. Their generation is increasingly being promoted into the ranks of management, with a recent study indicating that 62% of Millennial workers now have direct reports. So how did they get there? And what can you expect on your own leadership and career journey?

According to the survey, 25 is the average age at which people obtain their first leadership position. Respondents attributed their promotion to attitude (65%), leadership skills (61%) and the ability to work well with others (58%). Fifty-nine percent of managers surveyed obtained their leadership role through a promotion, while 41% asked or applied for their position.

25 is the average age at which people obtain their first leadership position. Click To Tweet

How long does it take to be promoted internally? On average, it took Millennial managers three years working with the company before obtaining a leadership position. Sixty-six percent of Millennial managers were promoted from within, compared to 59% of Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. Companies tended to hire more Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers (both 41%) directly into leadership roles than Millennials (34%).

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And once you get the promotion, don’t take it for granted that a raise is part of the deal. Though 77% of Millennial managers were offered a raise with the position, 1 in 5 had to ask for it. (And ask they will; Millennials are far less averse to salary negotiations than other generations.) Additionally, how much you get may also correlate with your generation; Gen-X managers received an increase of $9,009 in their leadership role, while Millennial managers received $8,261—a difference of nearly $750.

The raises given also reflected gender inequities. Internally promoted men were given raises averaging over $9,000, while women received almost $1,200 less.

Don’t waste your wait

Whether or not three years feels like a long road on your way to a promotion is probably dependent on your generation. Millennials are known for their quick-hit expectations for praise, promotion, and higher pay—but it doesn’t always come as fast as they’d like. Yet there’s a bright side to the wait: it is valuable time to develop the crucial skills to succeed in a leadership role.

Millennials are more favorable toward management training (76%) than any other generation, which corresponds with their general propensity toward growth mindset. Growth mindset, a term coined by Dr. Carol Dweck, is the belief that intelligence and ability are not static traits but can be developed and increased with education and training. Fixed mindset, on the other hand, holds that intelligence and ability are innate, inborn traits that cannot be significantly expanded by effort.

Instead of chafing against unmet expectations for a promotion, take time now to examine your personal growth mindset. Click To Tweet
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Growth mindset is more than just a positive, can-do attitude; it’s a foundational belief about personal potential. Instead of chafing against unmet expectations for a promotion, take time now to examine your personal growth mindset. Don’t waste your wait; be proactive and take every opportunity to learn, grow and stand out. Yes, it may take a full three years to reach that coveted position, but that’s three years to hone your skills and abilities so that when you do get there—you’re ready.

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About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is an international speaker and bestselling author. He also serves as CEO of TFS Results, a strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development.
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