When you think about entitlement, many people rush to talk about millennials. Interestingly enough, research has proven many of our assumptions wrong. In a scientific analysis from the University of Western Ontario, researchers looked at 500,000 high-school seniors over a thirty-year period. Their main findings were that teens today are no more egotistical (and actually, just as happy and content) as previous generations.

“We concluded that, more often than not, kids these days are about the same as they were back in the mid-1970s,”. They also stated that their findings show that entitlement changes dramatically with maturity in comparison to nominal generational changes. In other words, it’s not that people born after 1980 are self-absorbed…it’s that most people when they are young are entitled and as they get older, they get over themselves.

Aren’t we all working alongside individuals of varying ages who haven’t “gotten over themselves?” In nearly every professional environment, it is common to encounter those who have an inflated sense of their own importance. These people have a deep need for admiration and can forget to deploy empathy to others. Effective leaders of today need to be able to lead and inspire all personality types, including the entitled. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Go Down Memory Lane
Although tales that start with “back in my day” are met with an “eye roll”,  it may be meaningful to take a trip down memory lane. Newer employees may not know the sacrifices that their company was built upon. Consider creating a milestone wall documenting key turning points in the history of the company. Reviewing a company’s past can help emphasize the sacrifices that were made, the noteworthy accomplishments along the way, and how it evolved to where it is today.

Step 2: Change Your Phrasing
Entitled individuals believe themselves to be more special than others.  Frame your vocabulary to play against this notion. Instead of saying “you are the best hire we have ever made in this department” focus on expressing appreciation for a job well done. Statements such as “I appreciate the hard work you put into meeting your quarterly numbers”  focus more on the work being done as opposed to the uniqueness of the person doing the work. Call attention to the specific behavior and then offer up genuine thanks.

Step 3: Encourage Collaboration
To encourage entitled individuals to look outside themselves,  add some components to their set of responsibilities that require the success of others. This could be accomplished by tying a portion of compensation or bonus to the success of others. Creating organic opportunities for people to interact and mentor others is the key to rebuilding the entitled. Show them that both the entitled, others, and the company can all be successful through teamwork.

Step 4: Set Clear Expectations
Be exceptionally clear and measurable with all expectations. Consider going beyond “pass or fail” by communicating clearly the differences between unsatisfactory, good enough, and exceptional results. Sticking to these measurements is important, otherwise, the entitled will learn to manipulate the rules you set forth. Expectations could be desired behaviors, time in office, work ethic, or quotas. If they don’t meet the standards, you need to have a talk with them. Be clear as to why one employee is doing well over another.

Step 5: Let People Fail
Many great leaders acknowledge that it was through their greatest struggles that their greatest achievements were born. More often than not, those who history best remembers were faced with numerous obstacles that forced them to work harder and show more determination than others.

Entitled employees tend to stay within their comfort zones and take few risks. Set a stretch goal for those who feel they cannot fail, but do not chastise if they fail. Allow them to embrace the mistakes made and view failure as an opportunity for growth that lies ahead.

Deep down, we all want to be involved with a project that challenges us. When leaders give a tough objective it communicates that we actually take them seriously and give them permission to take risks that result in growth. You aren’t setting them up for failure, you are setting them up for growth! With all these tips, you are more than on your way to growing your entitled employees, whatever age they may be!

About Us

With over 90 years of Logistics experience, Top Talent is a recognized leader in Talent Acquisition for Logistics, Transportation, and Supply Chain., Let us put our team to work for you. To learn more about successful strategies for getting those impact players and game-changers on your team, reach out to us today.

– Michael Monson
Top Talent
President and CEO 

Email: mike@toptalentllc.com