Are Entitled Employees Draining?


My husband manages a fast pitch travel team and recently dealt with unhappy parents. While the majority of the team believes in being competitive and playing hard, one parent feels that their child should be able to play all the positions. Their request was expressed as a sense of entitlement, full of frustration, and regardless of the child’s ability or desire to play.

While watching, discussing, and commiserating with my husband, I couldn’t help but think of the work environment. We’ve all experienced it: that one individual who is never happy, complains about everything and everyone, and feels that they are deserving of so much more because they think they contribute significantly to the company. But in reality, that person brings everyone down, does not pull their weight, and generally tries to corral others to their side.

Studies, such as one recently conducted by Paul Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire, found that employees who feel entitled generally are frustrated, engage in office politics, and abuse co-workers in the form of insults and rumors.

What’s a manager to do? First and foremost, establish the goals and rules for the company, department, or project, clearly explaining what you expect. Identify the channels of communication, especially as it relates to discussing problems or challenges that may occur. Encourage employees to come to the manager, stressing the importance of communicating any concerns early on rather than letting an issue brew out of control. Hold team meetings as a project requires, keeping a pulse on performance, progress and attitude.

Meet with each individual and define his or her role. Set specific goals, and let them know new goals can be assigned once the first set is reached. If there are consequences for not completing a job, spell that out too. Identifying when a review will be conducted or  specifying project deadline dates goes a long way towards keeping goals in perspective.

Be sure to emphasize that when issues arise, the employee comes to the manager to discuss it. Managers should remain calm about the complaint, thank the employee for bringing an issue to their attention, ask questions in a nonjudgmental tone, and seek out what the employee’s potential solution may be. Managers should also remain positive and resist the urge to show frustration or exasperation. This can be done by stating observations, not opinions. Above all, remain objective and act quickly and definitively to resolve the matter.

Last, work with the employee to develop a training program or establish a mentoring program to help that individual grow. Get the employee involved with the planning, as the more one is involved in planning, the more likely they will be to follow through.



Jodi Groh is Marketing Director at Nanofilm.  You can reach her at



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