According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 40 percent of millennials expect a promotion every one to two years. Guess what? You can't expect one; you have to earn one.

Today, promotions are more focused on meritocracy, not tenure. Just like a rookie baseball player can become an MVP or All-Star, a new hire can earn a promotion in their first 6 or 12 months.

The first step to getting one is evaluating your career. Are you happy? Are you passionate about your role? Do you look forward to coming into the office? Do you like your coworkers?

If you like what you do, you will want to do more of it. If you do more of it, you are more inclined to get better at it, and if you're better at it, you're more inclined to get promoted.

Loving the work, and not loving the people is almost just as bad, if not worse, as loving the people and hating the work. Both are a recipe for stagnation.

If you're not happy, you need to figure out why, and either work on it, or find a new job. Whether it's the manager, the work, the company or your team, you can't (and probably shouldn't) grow in the organization if you don't like where you work or what you're doing.

If you want to get promoted, you need to:

Build a relationship with your boss.

Not enjoying the work typically leads to having a bad relationship with your boss, and the type of relationship you have plays a big role in getting promoted. When you have a good, respectable relationship, you can ask for feedback and know that any criticism comes from a place of development.

The job of a manager is to get the employee promoted, assuming it's what they want, and the job of the employee is to make their manager happy. That doesn't mean picking up their coffee or dry cleaning. It means asking what you need to do in your role to make them happy with your performance. Let them know you're willing to help. Tell them that if an opportunity comes up outside of your main day-to-day responsibilities, you'd love to be considered.

Start the conversation.

The conversation needs to start with you. Ask where you stand, and where you can improve. It shows you're ready to learn, grow and develop. You can't be scared to speak up.

Challenge yourself.

If you haven't been promoted, when was the last time you stayed late, or came in early to finish a project? When was the last time you volunteered for a new project? When was the last time you helped a coworker without being asked?

You also need to challenge yourself to continue learning outside of your workday. Attend a class at a local university. Read new books. Attend work-related events. Listen to trending podcasts. Listen to a non-trending podcast. Expand your horizon and learn different things. It will help you become a more well-rounded individual. Most people don't want to put in more time and just get more rewards. That's not how it works.

Be competitive.

You should want to be better than your boss. You should want to be better than your peers. You should want to be a better version of yourself tomorrow than you are today. It's not a bad thing to want to be better than those around you. Friendly competition is good for your career. It doesn't mean there's not enough business for you and someone else, or that someone is going to get fired. It's about you pushing to work harder, wanting to be better, making more money, and getting more responsibility.

Be a culture giver.

Be involved. Cheer others on. Every single coach loves the player at the end of the bench who cheers for those on the court. They're the morale boosters. Having a great attitude gives you more opportunity because people will like working with you more.

Network internally.

You need to network internally and build relationships with different levels of people and in different areas of the business. The more relationships you build within the company, the more people can share positive things about you if your name gets brought up during a meeting.

Find a mentor.

Find someone at the company who can share wisdom and advice, as well as their own experience climbing up the career ladder. They will be able to share company knowledge and a different perspective than a direct manager may be able to. If an opportunity gets brought up, these mentors will be your internal champion and bring your name into the conversation.

Remember, the moment you ask for a promotion, be prepared to do more work. Be prepared to hit harder deadlines, and be prepared to put in more time.

Published on: Sep 30, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.