Hello leader! This week, I had a conversation with a high impact female leader in aesthetics about one employee who has been with her since the beginning, but who has begun to exhibit a sense of entitlement.
The employee wants to be kept in the loop on all new company decisions, expects a raise every year for “cost of living adjustments and inflation,” and is passive aggressive, leaving the business owner feeling like she has to justify her actions and defend her decisions.
When an employee begins to believe that they have an automatic right to privileged treatment at work, this can create a sneaky toxic friction between that employee and everyone else around them.
In this blog, we’ll chat about how to deal with an entitlement mentality, including:
- Four common ways your employee may be expressing entitlement
- How you can lead differently to address it and prevent it from occurring in the future
- Two interview questions you can ask to spot entitled employees before you hire them
Four ways your employees may express entitlement
First, let’s talk about what entitlement is vs. what it isn’t.
We often mistake a sense of entitlement for owning our value. Someone knowing what they’re worth and capable of contributing is not what we’re discussing here. For more on this, episode 31 of The Fierce Factor digs into the topic of asking for a pay raise by showcasing impact, not just through seniority.
However, when an employee’s demands are out of alignment with their performance, or their willingness to put in the time or work to generate an equivalent amount of value for the business to substantiate their requests, you’ll experience friction.
A sense of entitlement doesn’t just come in the form of, “I deserve more compensation.” Here are 4 ways it might rear its head in the workplace, and how to deal with an entitlement mentality.
1. They want to make more money
You may have an employee who believes they should receive a raise because of their tenure or what they perceive they bring to the table. Or, maybe they are buying a new house and feel like they need to make more money.
All of this may be true and fair in some cases—however, you are here to pay for the results that an employee produces. If someone is being paid fairly for the work they do, it’s not your responsibility to give them a raise just because they ask for one.
2. They expect insider information
Sometimes an employee feels like they should be first to know about business decisions. Remember, as the team grows, sharing information with one privileged person could create more dissension among the team than it’s worth.
News will leak out occasionally, but sometimes you as a leader just want to have the autonomy to make a business decision without a unanimous vote—that’s why you own the place! New information should be delivered the right way, under the right circumstances, in the right context, to the right people.
3. They want to be held to a different standard
You know that employee who has been around for a long time, maybe a family member or special friend, someone who has a deeper established trust with you, and they feel like they don’t have to follow a system or process quite as thoroughly as everyone else?
This kind of special pass for one employee can cause chatter, bad morale, and less engagement amongst the team. In order to foster an efficient and collaborative working environment, the rules need to be upheld by everyone in the organization, even someone who believes they can skip the line.
4. They want to acquire more training on your dime
You may have an employee who thinks they deserve to acquire more skills on the dime of the company. They might want to attend a conference because you or another employee is going, or make claims about the privileges their friend in another state gets.
Watch out for employees who feel like educational and training opportunities should just be granted to them and paid for by you. They need to understand the value and earning runway to achieve this—there is a cost to learning.
How to address entitlement
We can’t control or anticipate how our employees react, respond, or evolve as our business grows. That’s why we can hire the best employee for our business year one and then year five suddenly feel like we’re looking at a different person.
It’s up to us to squash entitlement. Let’s talk about how to deal with entitled people through leading differently, and prevent it from occurring in your business in the future.
Step 1: Communication
Let’s go back to the scenario of an employee expecting a pay raise because of inflation. Instead of getting frustrated, shift your mindset—of course an “A” player would want to make more money. “A” players want to advance in their careers and evolve into greater financial freedom.
But most employees don’t really understand what it means to run a business, including profit, loss, and overhead. Here’s your chance to show them the financial breakdown.
Step 2: Don’t give in to demands
Think of a kid throwing a tantrum in a grocery store because they want chocolate. If his mom buys it for him, it might stop the tantrum momentarily, but it rewards his behavior. Don’t be that mom—don’t let your entitled employee bully you into caving in to their demands.
In fact, an employee who has been with you for a while and has received numerous raises with bloated perks might actually be replaceable with an employee who’s eager to grow with you for a significantly lower cost.
Step 3: Deter the behavior from the get-go
From day one, ensure employees have clear job descriptions and annual reviews to make sure everyone is on the same page about expectations and to determine if the KPIs you’ve assigned to them are still impacting the business as it evolves.
Throughout the offer process, an employee should be privy to a compensation package that outlines the value of each expense the company incurs by employing them. Bonuses, insurance, paid vacation, aesthetic products and services, retreats, mentorship, and training are all costs to the company and a value to the employee, so help them understand that.
Weed out entitled employees before you hire them
The best way to deal with an entitled employee is to not hire them in the first place! Middle Managed shares some essential interview questions to screen for red flags. Here are two of their suggestions.
Interview Question 1:
Tell me about a time that you were on a team where you had to support a colleague to complete the work because they were not able to give it their full attention due to a family circumstance. How did you handle it?
An entitled employee is focused on themselves and wants special treatment. This leads them to believe that employers should accommodate their personal circumstances and are quick to point blame at the employer rather than themselves when they do not meet work expectations.
See if they would be understanding of someone else experiencing a challenging personal circumstance. For example, a colleague couldn’t stay late leading up to a product launch because they were caring for a sick family member. A team player would be supportive, while an entitled employee would discuss their own expected accommodations, or have a “that person would owe me” attitude.
Interview Question 2:
Has there been a time where you haven’t met a performance metric? What was it? How did you go about improving?
Entitled workers are quick to blame others and still expect automatic rewards for mediocre work. Red flag answers involve a lot of excuses as to why the performance metric was unfair and why it wasn’t their fault. Be on high alert if they gripe that they missed a bonus or raise.
A good candidate will explain why a metric was missed and the reasons why. They’ll also be able to tell you their action plan for follow up and won’t complain about how unfair the whole thing was.
Beat entitlement with strong leadership skills
Stop tying yourself in knots trying to accommodate entitled employees. Find passionate, grateful, and eager employees, help them align to the greater vision, and give them a runway for earned growth that contributes to the team and company.
If you’re still struggling with how to deal with entitled people, check out our podcast, The Fierce Factor. Every week we lead authentic conversations about scaling your business as an aesthetic wellness entrepreneur. It’s like having a business coach at your fingertips for all your toughest business questions—listen now!
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