Ever since I first became a manager, I noticed a particular character trait that certain people had that was very concerning to me. It was a sense of entitlement and an expectation that they should be given things for no reason.
This trait was something I noticed examples of within almost every team I managed. There were always a few people who had this horrible sense of entitlement and a serious lack of understanding about how the real world works.
There are certainly cultural- and generational-related differences that influence a sense of entitlement. I have always been extremely intrigued about where this comes from and why certain people seem to exhibit a stronger sense of this unfortunate characteristic.
I don't want to start a debate about older versus younger people, but I can tell you from experience that the sense of entitlement exists primarily in those who are part of Generation Y. Generation Y is considered to be those born between 1981 and 1994. I also want to be clear that I'm not saying everyone in Generation Y has a sense of entitlement and shouldn't be hired. I'm simply stating that this is where I see the most people who possess this entitlement mentality.
I remember early in my career, I had a long discussion with a very tenured and experienced human resources executive about the challenges associated with managing employees who were relatively young in the workforce. He made several points that really stuck with me and make complete sense.
He explained that the world has changed drastically and that what children are exposed to and experience has evolved quite a bit. He used the example of cellphones and pointed out that every kid grows up with a cellphone and typically receives one at a very early age. It's become an expectation and part of life and because of that, people tend not to fully understand the true value and cost associated with gadgets and other technology-related gear.
He also referenced the influence media and entertainment has played in developing expectations of young people. Buying expensive clothes and having the latest and greatest toys has become part of who people are and how others view them.
Lastly, he made the point of how people grow up and how their parents raised them. My observations are that most kids today are not taught the value and benefits of hard work and have little sense of the financial aspects of life. People tend to take things for granted, and unless people are taught at a very young age they are poised to lack the fundamental understanding of working hard and earning everything you get.When people enter the workforce with a false sense of entitlement, they are often shocked at the reality they face. This shock translates into difficulties accepting the reality that life doesn't work that way and that in the real world you are judged on your performance and that's about it. Your performance is directly related to your effort, and you are not entitled to receive anything for any other reason.
Unfortunately, I don't have the magic answer to solve this problem. My suggestion is simply to be aware of it and keep your eyes peeled for those who possess this dangerous mentality. People who feel they are entitled typically become difficult to manage and usually end up either quitting or being terminated.
In addition to watching out for this trait, value those who possess the understanding of what it takes to be successful. You have to work hard. You have to be a student of your profession. You have to hold yourself to high standards. And you have to come to the realization that you are entitled to nothing. Everything you earn, everything you get and every advancement you earn will be directly related to your effort and attitude.
Christopher Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.