Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Some Thoughts on Entitlement

One of the values tested in the Workplace Attitudes Test is a sense of entitlement. Of course some people feel very entitled, others not at all. I believe that a strong sense of entitlement makes a person more difficult to work with. In the workplace, problems arise because the highly entitled may assume that they are not being sufficiently rewarded, they tend to see work as an obligation rather than an opportunity, and they often feel put upon if they are asked to do anything extra.

Entitlement is an interesting value and it has, on occasion, been a source of humor. I am reminded of Woody Allen’s lament, “Oh Lord if you could only give me a sign—like putting 10 million dollars in a Swiss bank account in my name.” Or the story of a man named Joseph who prayed every day for thirty years to win the lottery. One day on a hilltop he beseeched God “God, why have you not honored my prayer? I attend church every week, I tithe, I am good to my family and my fellow man and yet you don’t honor my prayer.” And God spoke to Joseph, “So Joseph, buy a ticket.”

Why do we find this so funny? I think that it is because we all feel entitled to some degree. But like the other values measured in the Workplace Attitudes Test, values that are extreme and inflexible cause problems.

Recently there has been a lot of buzz about generational differences concerning entitlement. It has been argued that when you raise children where everyone gets a trophy, you area fostering entitlement. A recent generation has been labeled the “Me Generation.” The proportion of people from different generations may differ on a variety of values, but I caution you to remember that entitlement is an individual characteristic. We hire individuals not generations. This is where skilled interviewing and a good pre-employment test will help. See:

1 comment:

Jon said...

Good post. Younger people today definitely have a higher sense of entitlement than older generations. And they stink to work with...