If there’s one thing Neil Blumenthal of online eyewear maker Warby Parker hates, it’s a prospective employee who acts entitled.
Entitlement is the root of all evil within an organization. Entitlement can include a whole slew of destructive behaviors: adopting a ‘that’s not my job’ stance, or alienating coworkers with arrogance, or inflexibly defending ideas that don’t necessarily contribute to the company’s wellbeing. Ultimately, entitlement degrades collaboration.
On the other hand, there’s actress, author and comedian Mindy Kaling, who portrayed an office worker on television, and at one time, actually was an office worker. She maintains that you need confidence to do a job well, and the only way to gain confidence is to feel entitled.
Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it's used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich, reality TV stars, and Conrad Hilton Jr., who gets kicked off an airplane for smoking pot in the lavatory and calling people peasants or whatever. But entitlement in and of itself isn't so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great. The hard part is, you'd better make sure you deserve it.
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It could be we’re talking semantics here. One person’s entitlement to get a job they deserve is another person’s, “What, you actually want me to do what you’re paying me for?”
Jada Graves, writing in U.S. News and World Report, points out that millennial-age workers are frequently accused of acting entitled. But she also quotes the observation of Lauren Stiller Rilken, who has studied the millennial generation work ethic: “They don’t see themselves as entitled. They see themselves as very hard-working, dedicated and loyal.”
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Diane Barth, writing inPsychology Today, says that feeling you’re entitled in the sense you have a right to something can be a reasonable and healthy expectation. Examples include the right to be respected and the right to just reward for a job well done.
She cautions, however, that the problems we normally associate with an “entitled attitude” arise when a person fails to take into account that other people are entitled respect and cooperation.
Trent Hamm, writing for The Christian Science Monitor, argues that we all feel entitled at times. “We feel we have a right to a better position at work because we earned it…we deserve that special treat because we’ve worked so hard lately.”
Problems arise when our sense of entitlement excludes those who have also worked just as hard and perhaps are even more qualified. Or if that treat we think we deserve is something we can’t afford.
Entitlement Leads to Productivity
Indeed, CEO reports that Nasty Girl fashion site founder (and millennial) Sophio Amoruso believes, “A sense of entitlement is a healthy thing.”
However, she didn’t expect anything to be handed to her; she knew what she wanted and knew how to get it. Because of that attitude, she feels her success is entitled.
You can feel good about feeling entitled:
- To question authority. At the crux of many a corporate scandal is the “just following what my bosses told me to do” attitude. You are entitled to an explanation of why your company is doing something the way it is doing it, as well as considering the ethical implications of what is required of you to do your job.
- To do rewarding work. Look, we all have to do drudge work from time to time. That’s part of the job. But if it’s not leading to something more than just a paycheck (not to discount the importance of that), then maybe it’s time to either demand a change in your job description or look for new opportunities.
- To fair treatment. If you don’t feel you’re being treated the same as others, and you suspect that may be based on something other than your work performance, you deserve not only an explanation, but appropriate correction.
- To respect. We all deserve respect, assuming of course, that we extend the same respect to others.
Go ahead. Don’t be afraid to ask for any of these. After all, you’re entitled.