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Entitled At Work?

Entitled at Work?

There’s a workplace epidemic out there. Perhaps you’ve heard about it or even experienced it. It’s…entitlement. No matter your industry or the size of your business, you have likely dealt with this before.

There’s a general sense of negativity and lack of responsibility associated with entitlement. Those that are afflicted don’t take feedback well. They may run into conflict with their colleagues. And they are known for complaining for the sake of complaining-that is without being constructive or offering solutions. Entitlement take on several different forms and sounds like this…

“I would totally work harder-if I got a salary increase.”

“Can you believe they don’t stock Pepsi products in the break room?”

“Management really needs to do something about this…”

“What?! We only get two weeks of paid vacation a year? I deserve at least 3!”

Where does it come from?

There are two contributing factors in workplace entitlement; the individual and the company.

Not so long ago people considered themselves fortunate to have and keep a job. Today talent is sometimes a scarcity. Individuals recognize that they possess what employers are looking for and they can leverage that. Therefore there is a mindset shift from “I’m happy to have a job” to “My employers are lucky to have me. They should be grateful.” Often time entitlement can begin after the newness of a job has worn off and the individual becomes complacent.

The second source of entitlement comes from the organization itself. With scare talent in the workforce, many companies shifted their focus to employee engagement. An engaged workforce is a great goal to strive for. However, the second half of the equation-accountability- was often overlooked. Engagement without accountability leads to entitlement. Giving more perks and benefits, however well intentioned, without tying them to performance or expectations may get people to stay longer, but may also create a culture of entitlement.

How do you reduce it?

Set expectations. Managers should have frank and ongoing conversations with their team members about the types of behaviors and performance that is expected. If a team members is supposed to be at their desk at 8:00, share that expectation. Don’t take for granted that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.

Mediocre performance is a growth opportunity, it is not to be rewarded. When individuals who are doing the bare minimum are rewarded with the same evaluation ratings as their higher performing peers or when they are offered the same perks it causes two problems. First of all, it reinforces the behavior for the individual. Secondly it sends the message to the team that they don’t have to perform at such a high level to be rewarded. Thus, the entire team suffers and entitlement creeps in.

Take Ownership. Every team and each individual on the team have a part to play in the company’s success. So when a team member approaches you with a problem, ask them “what have you done to investigate or resolve this?” Engage your team members by asking them questions like “what have you done recently to support the company’s core values?” or “Tell me what you’ve done to help your team this week.” Those types of conversation starters shift some of the ownership back to the individual and empower them in the process.

Want to learn more? Contact Pathfinder Strategies at (888) 529-0240 or

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