Entitlement Issues in Your Culture

There’s a nasty current that runs through the culture of many companies .  Entitlement.  The belief that work should be easy because of who you are or the unique skills you possess.  Or even more, that you will be handed privilege upon privilege without earning your stripes.
Entitlement is a cancer.  I’ve witnessed it firsthand, and I know I’ve even displayed an entitled attitude on occasion.  There are not many attitudes at work that break down trust on a team quicker than these individuals.

It’s tough to pinpoint the root cause of entitlement.  It shows up in entry level positions, executive roles and all points in between.  It’s not simply those from a privileged background.

Entitlement is a drain.  A culture suck.  It creates unnecessary friction and needs to be addressed head on.

If you lead people in any capacity, here are four ways to flush an entitlement culture:

1 – Do the work.  This is simple.  But work your tail off and do the work necessary to be excellent in your role.  This builds equity over time and allows you to start highlighting how effort will yield results.  Display to those with entitled tendencies that the path to excellence is through effort.

2 – Serve your team.  One of my favorite memories at the Chiefs happened after a huge event around Draft Day.  The team that put on the event was wiped, it had been a very long day, let alone the weeks and months of prep time.  Once the fans left, there was still a ton to do.  A vendor that was hired to remove chairs and clean tables was late.  So instead of waiting around for them to show, a high ranking VP, in his full suit, grabbed a trash bag and started clearing hot dogs and empty beer cans from the tables.  Soon several others joined and then virtually the whole front office was collecting trash.  Serve your team.  It’s contagious and cuts to the bone of an entitled person.

3 – Display trust.  This seems counter-intuitive, but if you show trust to an entitled team member and empower them to do their jobs, you’ve removed a litany of excuses they could use against you later.  Empower them, equip them and give them the tools to succeed.  Some will rise up and others will be out of excuses and fail anyway.

4 – Have tough conversations.  If the first three aren’t producing results in your entitled team members, have tough conversations quickly.  Don’t allow their cancerous attitudes to erode the culture you’re fighting to build.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to deal with entitlement in the business setting, but these are four ways that have served me well.  Shoot me an email to justin@justinricklefs.com with additional ways you’re dealing with entitlement.

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