The Entitlement Mentality

I’ve been in management for a long time for a 33-year-old guy. 10 years to be approximate. And in those years, I’ve noticed that there are two types of people in this world. People who believe they are entitled to life, and those who know that life takes hard work to realize rewards. The former are victims of what I call the entitlement mentality. The entitlement mentality is simply when one believes they are entitled to something because of something innate in them (like intelligence or potential). Some examples are an employee who says, “I’m not going to do more than my job description until they pay me more money”, or “Even though I only gave 50% I’m irreplaceable, they owe me.” That second one sounds stupid to say out loud, but it is common in people with entitlement complexes.

I used to believe that the entitlement mentality was generational. I’m generation X and the second half of my generation is where it seems to have started. I attribute this to the types of parents we had. Those of us 30+ have parents that were too old to get caught up in the Hippie life-style as a life-direction. Don’t confuse me for saying they didn’t partake, just that they still had enough old-skool in them to be realists.

The younger Gen-X and the Gen-Y grew up with full-on Hippies and Yuppies. Think Cheech&Chong and Gordon Gecko. Different as night and day you might say, but the life lesson’s learned from each have a similar “me” focus. Hippies believe in equality and communism (and not in the old Soviet-Union oppressive way), and Yuppie kids got handed everything because their parents had the means and the guilt to overcompensate for turning their children into latch-key kids.

But I digress. I was wrong. While entitlement is definitely overwhelmingly prevalent in this younger generation, there is an entitlement mentality in a subset of people who have caused this Gen-X and Gen-Y perception that performance is a result of pay (as opposed to pay being a reflection of performance). The corporate lackey yuppies. These are the type that have worked so long that they feel entitled to high status positions and pay, but feel that the hard work should be done by the people beneath them. Their vast knowledge and understanding of how business works should be praised, paid highly, and not require them to actually do any work. The folks are usually easily spotted by their ridiculously lofty (and usually self-appointed) titles.

The entitlement mentality that exists in today’s companies is mind boggling. And is increasing overhead and decreasing profits all while making most employee’s miserable. I encourage you to read this essay by Paul Graham (Thanks Joel for the find) and pay close attention. If you think he’s full of it, I’ve just written a blog post about you. Smile you’re famous!

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