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It's time to change the sense of entitlement in your workplace!

September 29, 2015


There’s a lot of talk these days that the millennial generation has a huge sense of entitlement and any of us with children that are teenagers or in their early twenties could probably agree to a certain extent.


However, age seems to have no bearing on the sense of entitlement in the workplace. There seems to be a growing number of people that have unrealistic expectations of what they should receive from their employer and complain all the time but never seem to be able to offer up  any solutions. It seems that for some people coming to work, doing a job they were hired for and getting paid for doing that work doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. There is  demand for greater  flexible working options, bigger pay rises, more recognition, additional and bigger rewards but not so much for additional work or responsibility.


Why is this happening and what can we do about it? Part of this stems from workplaces having to offer more than just a salary or wage these days to attract and retain employees. In effect, there is a competition between employers to see who can afford the best candidates. There’s nothing wrong with this as we all want the best employees working for us but as a Manager you should then expect a stellar performance in return from this employee. It’s all about setting expectations and following through with a robust performance review process where you can see how much value your employees add to the bottom line of the business. If you don’t follow through, you are actually contributing to the culture of entitlement. People can see there is no consequence for average or poor performance – so why bother putting in the extra effort?


In my experience, other employees who feel entitled to bigger and better benefits are those that have been in the business a while but haven’t progressed from their original position or haven’t made a significant  impact to the business. They are your classic plodder – they show up, they do their job to the minimum standard required, they go to meetings when required but never volunteer to take on more responsibilities  and they go home on time every day. (or earlier if they can manage it – after all they got in 10 minutes early today!) They believe that because they have shown up for the last five years and their job has been done to an acceptable standard or no one told them otherwise, that they are entitled to more pay, more training or better benefits.


There are also those that believe that their work ought to  be valued highly by others regardless of the quality and they should therefore be rewarded. They are unable to engage in self-critical analysis of what they do, or accept constructive criticism from others. These are your classic narcissists.


These groups are the employees that need to be managed smarter, need their expectations lowered and perhaps some shown some tough love.


I attended a ‘Tough Love Leadership’ workshop earlier this year, hosted by Proteus Leadership where I learned the concept of Grow or Go – as a Manager you are either encouraging your employees to grow into their roles and the expectations that go along with that or you are encouraging them to grow in a role outside of the current workplace – that is  – go. Great concept and one we don’t do enough of as Managers.  If you don’t start to have these conversations you will be stuck with the plodders and the narcissists and, quite likely, some of their workloads and that isn’t a place you want to be.


Here’s how to change your culture of entitlement

  • Work on the core values of the organisation and make sure everyone is involved in this

  • Communicate and live the values

  • Set expectations for all employees, talk to them regularly and ensure you follow through with robust review processes

  • Make people accountable!!! When you create a high level of accountability in a positive fashion, good people stick around and they show the door to the poor ones.

  • Ensure all employees understand the financials of the business and their role in the business so they see the correlation between what they do and the financial impact on the company if they don’t meet their job expectations

Take the time and invest in these processes and you can slowly but surely change your culture of entitlement to one of mutual cooperation, accountability and even gratitude.

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