What do you do with an employee who thinks she deserves a raise or a promotion but there is one thing holding her back – her attitude? Frequently the entitled employee is in a state of denial. Any attempt to confront and correct the attitude is met with contempt. In her own mind, she thinks she is untouchable.
An attitude of entitlement can form when employees become conditioned to think that they will receive positive reinforcements without having to earn it through their performance. If their current manager or a series of previous managers have been reluctant to confront the problem, the employee may feel entitled or justified in their behavior.
From the Employee’s Perspective
The entitled employee in his own mind often sees the world from a different perspective. He may think everyone around him (including his manager) as less competent than he is. He thinks that if it wasn’t for him, the whole place would fall apart. And he feels that it is his duty to point out the flaws of others.
An attitude of superiority may have been with them since the individual entered the workforce or it may have been cultivated from working for a manager who reinforced that behavior. The employee may have felt overlooked when they didn’t get a promotion or job opening that was posted.
A victim mentality only serves to perpetuate the employee’s perception that the world is against her. A low sense of self-esteem is an underlying cause and makes the employee fragile when confronted. It isn’t unusual for this employee to break down emotionally when confronted by their manager which causes many managers to avoid the subject.
The good news is that there is hope. This mindset can be turned around. It requires action from the manager.
Attitude is a Performance Problem
Managers are sometimes reluctant to confront an attitude problem with the same vigor as other performance issues. One employee’s negativity can poison the productivity of the workgroup.
Because the manager doesn’t necessarily have to be around the negative employee it can be easy to avoid the person. Unfortunately co-workers do not have the same opportunity to retreat. Therefore unabated, the culture of the workgroup becomes poisoned.
Putting the Ideas into Action
- Prevent an attitude of entitlement to establish itself by reinforcing desired results AND behavior.
- Provide coaching as soon as possible when an attitude issue becomes apparent.
- If coaching fails to improve the situation consider using progressive discipline to apply negative consequences.
- If attitude improves, provide positive feedback and encouragement.
- If attitude tends to relapse after a few weeks or months, then deal with that pattern in a coaching or correcting conversation.