How to Address Attitudes of Entitlement in the Workplace
It’s not uncommon for leaders to struggle with handling employees who feel entitled to rewards. For example, sometimes this happens when employees feel they deserve a certain level of compensation because they’re loyal and have done a good job. But them simply sticking around for a long time and doing their job as expected isn’t necessarily grounds for a raise or a bonus. On the other hand, if that’s something a company has defined as a legitimate measure for reward, then, yes, it would be grounds for greater compensation. So make sure your people really know how they can earn rewards and also have a formal way for them to do so. When you create and communicate the expectations and provide the means to achieve rewards, your people won’t come to you feeling entitled for more. They’ll take ownership of their actions and the results they achieve, legitimately earning their rewards instead.
Here’s what you need to address entitlement issues:
An accountability system. When you have a proven accountability system, it gets everyone on the same page and focused on the right measures. It also levels the playing field, helps eliminate and prevent entitlement, and gives everyone the same opportunity to excel against their goals. To work, the system must tap the power of putting performance measures in place and monitoring those numbers. You may know that at MAP, we call those measures the Vital Factors®, the key indicators of the performance, relative to the organization, its teams and its individuals. We implement our accountability system through regular Vital Factor Team Meetings, where people learn what’s working and what’s not, receive coaching if necessary, and provides insight into who is or isn’t engaged. Whether you use this or another such accountability system, know that having this structure in place is essential for effectively driving performance and warding off misplaced attitudes, including entitlement.
The people to lead that effort. You can’t operate solo here. An accountability system will only work if you, the leader, and your leadership team embrace and learn how to drive it down into the organization. So get your people at the top engaged, providing the training and know-how to implement accountability company-wide. This will send a message to everyone that through your version of an ego-free accountability system—and not just through some random way—will performance measures be defined and rewarded.
Excellent communication. When you’ve got a formal accountability system, use your meetings and other strategies and opportunities to clearly and consistently communicate your goals, the expectations around those measures, and what reward, relative to success, really looks like and how it works. If people have any uncertainty around all this, they will be more likely to make assumptions and, not knowing what they don’t know, develop mindsets around entitlement. Make sure they’re clear on where the organization stands on accountability and don’t forget to communicate this aspect of your culture to new hires, too. While most people like to be held accountable, not everyone does. Got a candidate who doesn’t like what he/she hears about how you measure goals and offer rewards? This person might not be the best fit.
What are some signs of entitlement to look for when you're interviewing candidates?