“The problem with employees these days,” said my brother the entrepreneur, “is that they have entitlement issues. And they make trouble when you don’t give them what they want.”
It was a Friday night, and we were having dinner together for the first time in months. I asked him how his day went, and ended up listening to a 15-minute monologue about a young man in his company who demanded a raise…despite the fact that he’s an administrative assistant and didn’t do more than what was asked of him. The sad part was that I wasn’t shocked—I may be a freelancer, but I have worked on projects where I took the lead. In many of them, I had to work with a much younger professional; a worker who thinks she’s all that, when she clearly still needs to improve her work.
Their race, gender, sexual preferences, and even their socio-economic backgrounds vary. But many of them do have one glaring, painful thing in common: they are young, they are vocal, and they have some screwed up entitlement issues.
Why we’re dealing with demanding employees
Of course, everyone is different—not all young people think that employers should give them everything they want, just because they asked. But the number of such individuals is disturbingly high these days, and many experts think it has something to do with the way we have raised them: these are the children who were given school awards for “showing up in class”.
It isn’t all that surprising, then, that some of these people believe deep in their hearts that they are already perfect and that everything good in life will be handed to them on a silver platter for the slightest of efforts. They think they never make mistakes (other people do), that they deserve special perks like upgraded phone service apps (on company-sponsored phones), and that the main job of everyone else in the world is to cater to their whims. They get into lengthy arguments with their supervisors about how their performances are rated, and even get their parents to talk to HR.
Those same parents, by the way, coddled them and told them that they have some grand destiny, that they can be anything they want—completely forgetting that America is all about working hard for EVERYTHING. The reasons for the overprotection can be different for each parent. It could be because they only want the best for their kids or because they don’t want them to suffer through the same problems they did. No matter the reason, though, the result is still the same: entitled employees.
What should be done about it?
There are, to my understanding, only two ways to go about this.
- Let them know from the very beginning which sorts of actions are not tolerated and that violating certain rules have consequences
- Avoid hiring them altogether
If you’re already dealing with such people (in my case, it’s because the client has already hired them to work under me), then you really need to clarify what the job will and will not give to them. Spell out what is expected of them and the corresponding rewards for each accomplishment. Correct them (privately!) as soon as they start engaging in the unacceptable behavior. Don’t engage them in an argument; just tell them that the rules are the rules, and that they can’t be changed so easily. If this doesn’t work, then accept that you may have to part ways.
If you aren’t already dealing with such people (and don’t want to), then you really need to watch out for signs of unreasonable entitlement during the hiring process. Say for example that you ask an applicant during an interview what they do when they fail at something. The entitled applicant will claim that they have failed at nothing, but the non-entitled applicant will often cite a failure and the steps it took to rectify their mistakes. People who don’t like sharing credit are entitled too; you may not want to hire them.
At the end of the day, what every employer really wants is to work with people who are accountable for their actions—people who know the meaning of “accountability”. Unless you start out with such people in your organization or make sure you can teach it to entitled employees, you won’t have much hope.
My brother had to let that young man go. But he’s learned that in order to get what he needs, he really has to make things as clear as possible from the very beginning.
Leslie Young is a Blogger, web designer and developer for 3years. She usually writes about business, telecommunications such as business phones and cloud phones, latest gadgets including smartphones and tablets. With her immense experience, she enters the world of internet and starts blogging and pursues her dream to be a web expert. Now, she is participating in many Blog sites as a guest blogger. Follow her on Twitter & Facebook