Nurturing Engaged Employees in an Entitled World

Christmas is just over and we all have received numerous presents from family and friends. Our kids each have around 6 – 10 presents each, and it truly is a wonderful thing to see their joy and laughter when they rip open their presents.

However, I start to wonder how to get my kids to appreciate things in life and not feel like all these goodies are their entitlement. 

As parents, I'm sure you have heard "this is mine", "I want this doll for my present." or "Where is mine?".

At the work place, especially when it is year end and review time, the sense of entitlement becomes stronger as employees reflect on their work for the year and what it means for their bonuses and next year's raise.

As managers, I'm sure you have heard "I put in a lot of effort.", "I work late every day", "I did the most work.", "The other team has that too."

Many employees have the perception that because they put in the same or more effort or time on something they should be rewarded the same or more for it. Some even believe that since everyone has the same benefit, they should too. The sense of entitlement is very strong, and I find it even more so when we start to manage younger employees.

While these misplaced "sense of entitlement" goes a long way deeper into the person's candidates and it possibly a family upbringing issue, we can still put some measures in place at the work place to guide these young employees along.

Let's look at 3 ways to avoid entitled employees … 

1. Expect More

First always give credit if your employee does great work. However, finish off your compliment with something along the lines of setting the next challenge or think about how we can make the next one even more awesome. This emphasizes that work and learning is always a continuous process and there will always be a new mountain to climb, or a new medal to be won. It's also true that when you hold people to higher standards, they typically will meet and/or even beat it. 

2. Hand over the reins

Let employees take control of the project, let them be responsible and accountable for the project deliverable. Give employees the freedom and independence to make decisions and execute projects based on their judgement and ability. Don't spoon feed them. (Reference my earlier post: Embrace the mess https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/embrace-mess-edwin-ting?trk=prof-post) If required, provide guidance and point them in the right direction, but don't just give the answers. You short change them and they think it's the way the system works, i.e. getting answers to problems is easy.

3. Emphasize team work

Very rarely in a work environment you can work independently and achieve significant goals without the help of others. Very early on, always emphasize the importance of team work. The team grows, you grow too. The team learns, you learn too. Doing this, helps employees watch out for each other (hopefully, not step on each others toes too) and foster a sense of achieving together. Since there is lesser emphasize on self, there will be lesser issues of self-entitlement. 

So, with the year end reviews on-going, do take note on how to steer your employees in the right direction of being an engaged employee – expect more from them, evaluate if you have given them sufficient freedom and independence and finally, make it a team effort.

On a personal parenting note, I notice my kid, recently, building up a strong sense of self-entitlement. I realized it's an issue with over emphasizing their needs over the family and also the multitudes of gifts and presents from everyone (thank you, nonetheless). So, for 2017, my kid will be helping around more in the house, I will have higher expectations of their work, and I will strongly emphasize the family (parents and siblings) as a priority over self. And, yes, less presents and gifts from all you kind folks out there. 🙂 

This article takes its learning from the successful parenting book by Kristen Welch, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World (http://raisinggratefulkids.com/).

#ParentingIsTheNewMBA #SucceedAtWork #CareerTips #ParentingSkills

"Parenting is the new MBA: Succeed at work by applying parenting skills” is a column combines of 2 distinct areas of my life: my professional view on workplace management & my personal experience as a parent.

About Edwin Ting

I help brands drive ROI through branding and digital marketing. With 10+ years of China marketing experience across agency, media and ecommerce brand, I have helped various brands drive business in China.

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