How to manage entitled employees

It was almost eighty years ago that Sir Robert Menzies, in between prime ministerships, aired his Forgotten People speech which distinguished between two groups of Australians – lifters and leaners. “Leaners grow flabby,” he said. “Lifters grow muscles.”

It’s a muscular turn of phrase that has survived the eight decades since the midpoint of World War II to still be part of the Aussie vernacular such that it continues to be used when referring, for instance, to the unemployed or to government lobbyists and even, as we’ll learn today via soon-to-be-published research, to a small but growing proportion of the workforce.

Is it possible to lead even those staff who think they’re more deserving than others?

That substantial minority reflects those afflicted to some degree by a sense of entitlement. Work is less about what they can contribute and more about what they can take. And, according to dozens of prior studies, it’s on the rise, can lead to workplace dysfunction and diminishes their own job satisfaction. So, all in all, it isn’t a pleasant experience for them, their colleagues or their managers.

Of course, we’re not talking here about employees who are legitimately dissatisfied with their employment conditions due to, say, being denied fair pay or flexible work practices. We’re talking about those who consistently believe they deserve special treatment and generous rewards irrespective of their abilities or levels of performance.


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