Navigating Entitled Employees
Everyone has at least one employee who feels “entitled.” You know, the one with selfish behavior in the office, or the one who always feels he or she has been treated unfairly. Employees who feel entitled think that they are more deserving than others, which can cause tension and issues to arise in the workplace. Negative consequences abound for other employees and management when an employee feels entitled. The manager will find it difficult to balance supervising this difficult type of employee and minimizing conflict with other employees.
Need help dealing with this?
A study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology offers some insight for managers with employees who feel entitled. According to the research, entitled behavior “manifests as complaining a lot, requesting a bigger raise or more resources than others without additional effort, blaming external factors, and thinking others treat them poorly.”
When dealing with an entitled employee, the experts recommend harnessing this negative energy and redirecting it into productive behavior.
The experts at Optimum Employer Solutions have gathered some tips for accomplishing this difficult task:
- Emphasize Team Effort – Because entitled employees can be selfish, it is important to find ways to place a strong emphasis on team effort. You can make a point to celebrate team efforts publicly rather than focusing on celebrating individual efforts. By focusing on the team, you will indirectly encourage your employees to collaborate and share recognition, rather than working to promote themselves alone.
- Focus on Tasks That Highlight Strengths – You could also consider assigning tasks to entitled employees that really play to their strengths. Entitled people are usually well suited to brainstorming tasks because they think differently than the average employee, and are usually not afraid to suggest ideas that are outside the box.
- Be Fair – It is important that you are fair and treat your employees the same. Poor management practices that raise some employees over others will lead to entitlement. Look for issues like managers who are too lenient and make exceptions for one employee instead of maintaining consistent rules for everyone.
- Screen During the Interview Process – One of the best ways to keep entitled employees in check is to eliminate them in the hiring process. Be sure to focus on good one-on-one interview questions that identify potential employees who are hard-wired for entitlement. Consider asking questions that focus on a major mistake or failure, including what led up to it, how the candidate dealt with it and, most importantly, what he or she learned from it. If the candidate has a strong sense of entitlement, he or she will likely say that they have never made a major mistake or they will blame it on someone else. Also, ask questions about how the candidate works with a team. If you hear a lot of “I’s” instead of “we’s,” consider it a red flag.