**At companies with slower headcount growth, promotions will...

At companies with slower headcount growth, promotions will usually become harder. The reality is that promotions are much harder and rarer for any team with no – or sluggish – headcount growth, within a business expanding slower than before. There are many reasons why, but here’s two:

Budget increases are under more scrutiny. A company that’s slower in headcount growth, usually cares about costs. Adding headcount is a major new cost and so new headcount is given only to teams with a very strong business case. Promoting someone is a moderate cost increase, but leadership might still require a business case.

Seniority ratios . Companies care about non-senior-to-senior ratios, and staff-and-above-to-senior ratios. When a team hits the “normal” seniority or staff ratio there will be valid pushback from the business against more promotions, when the team does not need more senior or staff engineers.