The Evil E’s: Entitlement Defined
Now to the final Evil E: Entitlement. When something that was originally a positive in life becomes the norm, Entitlement happens. It no longer adds value to your life if it happens, it’s just expected. If it does not happen, you become sad, depressed or angry.
Entitlement is actually very ingrained in human nature. Out of the other Evil E’s — Ego and Envy — I find Entitlement the least purposefully malicious, but the most pervasive. It’s very destructive to a company or team of people.
Even though Entitlement creeps into cultures, it’s very common for a person to have excessive Entitlement. They stir-up the office over every small issue, or because they read somewhere that another company had something. If they get a perk, it’s not enough; there’s something else they need to be “happy.” They’re the grouchy ones in the office. People with excessive Entitlement tend to be naturally unhappy people.
We can see Entitlement in our society every day. Look at the union workers striking for perks they simply expect, yet their basic jobs are going overseas because companies can’t stay in business and pay those perks anymore; the movie star expecting a certain size trailer; and the rock star expecting someone to remove the brown M&M’s. Then, look at the attitude of a new immigrant to America, who just wants an opportunity to survive and provide for his family. Compare that attitude to some people born in America, who are mad because they have to work 40 hours a week. Entitlement is breaking our country, just as it has done to so many world powers before.
Beyond world powers, Entitlement also destroys teams and companies. I remember tons of examples of Entitlement when starting Rising. At first, I wasn’t paying myself. Our team had been working hard, so we did pizza night a few weeks in a row to reward them. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re broke it means a lot. The first time was great; second time was fine; by the third time, I came back to the office to find employees fighting over where to order from and what toppings. It was depressing. My efforts to cheer up the team turned into drama. It made me not want to do nice things for the team anymore.
I have learned a lot since those days. Here are a few things I’ve found extremely helpful in deterring Entitlement from taking over the workplace:
- Pay attention to the personality types of the people you hire so there’s less drama.
- Keep your eyes open for something to reward, but not every time. Doing the right thing needs to be reward enough, and will be for the right teammates.
- Reward on a random basis. If recognition happens at the same time every day, week, month or year, rewards are soon expected.
- Watch for “Entitlement creep” and break it when you see it. It will cause short-term pain, but will create a better work environment and team over time.
- Find the excessively Entitled person on your team and get them off. They will poison the team and prevent high performance and happiness.
- Focus on being grateful. When your co-worker, spouse, company or friend does something nice, notice it, even if they have done it before. The words “thank you” are magical.
- Look at things through the giver’s eyes. If they’re no longer giving something they gave before, that doesn’t mean their motives are malicious. They obviously wanted to do something special for you in the past, but for whatever reason are no longer able to.
Ultimately, Humility, Understanding and Gratitude are key ingredients that will alleviate this Evil E from entering any scenario — personal or work.