I hear it weekly.
- “They are so entitled.”
- “They believe they are entitled to… “
- “They act so entitled.”
- “They are just a bunch of entitled (#@$^).”
Individual leaders use this label all-too-frequently and it may just be having a dramatic impact on their team(s).
A common definition of entitled is “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
To properly use the word to describe someone, we’d need to observe them SAYING OUTLOUD “I deserve this because I believe I’m due some sort of unique privilege.”
Most of the time however, that isn’t what people say.
What actually happens is more like this:
Employee: I’d like to request a raise and/or promotion.
Boss: You’ve only been here three months.
Employee: I know, but I’d like to get promoted and make more money. I’ve always heard you should ask for what you want. So, I’m asking…
Boss: (in his/her mind) This kid is so entitled! Who does he/she think they are? I had to work for five years before I even thought about getting promoted and I never asked for one!
Entitled is a label to describe someone’s behavior.
We cannot know why people do what they do.
We can only experience their behavior.
We label others’ behavior based on OUR OWN experience.
A label is an expression of our own opinion.
Our opinions come from our own assumptions.
For you data junkies there’s this:
‘According to research conducted by Harvard, 70% of all our assumptions are wrong. Case Western University’s recent research tells us that up to 90% of the assumptions we make about other people are wrong in some way.’
Calling someone entitled is assuming intent.
We are assuming we know WHY they do or don’t do what they do.
But most of the time we assume, we are wrong.
And not only that, the label we choose to describe behavior can be loaded emotionally.
How does it feel to believe your employee is entitled?
How do you act with someone when you believe this about them?
How is your behavior contributing to or detracting from to your ability to coach and lead this employee?
Calling someone entitled, is a method of shaming.
In some respects, many leaders are shaming entire groups of employees.
his is not an effective way to build moral, teams and performance.
As leaders, we need high performers.
We also must acknowledge that our employees do not come to us completely baked.
We have work to do, to help them develop.
When an employee asks for a raise and promotion in a manner that you believe is premature, teach them why.
Coach them on the best methods to achieve the promotion and raise.
Help them sketch out their plan to get where they want to go.
Don’t assume they know how.
Don’t assume they just think they ‘should’ get it.
Don’t assume they are being entitled.
A request like this from an employee could be a sign of ambition and success.
It could be an indicator of someone who wants to grow and learn.
It could be the VERY person you want on your team.
When we think of them as entitled (if we’re honest with ourselves) we shut them off.
And we shame them.
Our younger, less professionally experienced team members are our organizations’ future.
Leaders who figure out how to tap their energy and their minds will be on the forefront of successful organizations in the years to come.
We have a choice with how we label behavior.
If the label doesn’t feel good. It’s likely not going to help you be effective in your leadership and coaching of your employee(s).
Ask them what they want.
Ask them if their willing to do the work to get there.
Show them how.
And then hold them accountable along the way.
It’s not exceptionally challenging.
But it requires us (as leaders) to not separate ourselves from our teams, by mislabeling and judging behavior with our own assumptions.