Why Do Millennials Expect to Be Promoted?

Why Do Millennials Expect to Be Promoted?
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Every talk, training, or workshop I present, a leader will ask about millennials and entitlement. Whether millennials are entitled or not is the wrong conversation. The real conversation needs to focus on expectation. As soon as I steer the conversation into expectation, the follow up question sounds like this, "Okay then, why do millennials expect to be promoted so quickly?" That's a better question because then I can share insight about training millennials for leadership, a real business matter. If the conversation stays on entitlement, it becomes a complaining Q&A.

Here is why talking about expectation introduces the topic about training millennials.

Millennials Expectation of Promotion Makes Sense

In 1991, when the world wide web first appeared, the world got a lot faster. For older millennials, they were still in elementary school this time. The education system scrambled through the world wide web concept attempting to integrate it into schools. Millennials were quickly being immersed into a faster world through an internet connection.

Along with the popularity of the internet, devices were being created and competitors fought to make the better model. Technology, software, and speed was shaping the millennial generation. The internet, devices, and software led to a fast delivering world. Even physical products can be delivered in hours through the internet today. We live in an instant world and millennials have been raised to expect instant delivery.

So are millennials expecting an undeserved reward of promotion or the instant delivery of a promotion? There is a difference.

Pile on top of the speed of life and instant connection, success formulas to the perfect job were being taught to millennials. This too embedded an expectation for millennials to follow a system and get results like a promotion--guaranteed. It should be no surprise millennials expect to be promoted. Instead, businesses need to respond to this expectation by focusing on combating those built up expectations and train (not teach or document) millennials in business' set of expectations respectfully. All expectations effect culture and businesses need to know how to deal with it.

Do Not Squash Millennials Expectation for Promotions

While you may want to pop your millennial's balloon of expectations, you need to be careful. This expectation is not all bad. Although the expectation can turn into entitlement, do not assume an expectation to be promoted is equal to entitlement. Expectation can be used to your business' advantage. Look to reshape your millennial's possible inaccurate expectation by changing the way you promote or advance your millennial employees.

If you have millennials wanting to be promoted, leverage their desire by pushing their work production and development. Encourage the drive to be promoted by clarifying the expectations you have for promotion. Then help them devise a plan to be promoted by accomplishing goals towards a promotion. This action will allow your millennial employees to have a reasonable timeline that you support.

Whatever you do though, do not squash the desires of millennials expecting promotions. They will interpret that as defeat and become disengaged. With only 29 percent of millennials engaged in their job, employee engagement is a real issue. When your millennial employees are disengaged, they have already emotionally left your company. The thought by a millennial is, "If my boss doesn't believe in me, then I will find another employer that may." You cannot lose young top talent in today's war on talent.

So, set aside the need to prove your leadership for a bit and see the whole picture. While some millennials will have an expectation that is immersed in ego and pride, the majority of millennials are not expecting handouts without working hard. They just need to be guided through a mutually agreed upon plan of action. Challenge your expecting millennials to improve, develop, and grow.

The key here is development. When a millennial in your office comes to you with an expectation of promotion with no egos attached, reward them by training them. The training makes millennials feel rewarded, valued, and invested into. This takes no pay increase. There are no extra responsibilities handed to expecting millennials. You are simply giving them an opportunity get better and grow. Yes, training does cost money, but so does developing any employee. Everybody wins in this scenario. The millennial gets the training they desire, managers get the opportunity to improve their team, and businesses feed their leadership pipeline.

After all, you would rather have millennials expecting to be promoted than millennials wanting to stay complacent in their job.

Millennials Need to Be Trained for Leadership

The fact is simple, millennials need to be trained for leadership. Put the expectation of promotion aside for a minute. No matter which way you see it, millennials need to be prepared for leadership. Instead of being irritated at millennials' expectation to be promoted, use it as an opportunity to train up millennial leaders.

Whether you have an eight step plan to training millennials for leadership or not, you need to be training millennials for leadership. Millennials are not getting any younger and they are quickly repopulating the managerial positions in companies. Equip your business for the future and fill your leadership pipeline with those millennials that want to move up. Again, you would rather have over zealous millennials than underachieving millennials.


Jared Buckley helps businesses strategically develop millennials soft skills and emotional intelligence to be game-changers. You can read more at JaredBuckley.com.

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