Entitlement – A Business Cancer.

By Chris Lott | Management | 1919 Views | Leave a Comment    

I really get frustrated over this. They get hired… great looking, educated, and all the potential in the world. Then they start in with the “what’s in it for me” attitude. Everything is about them. There’s no “big picture”. Very little appreciation for others in general and definitely not what anyone has done for them. They critique, critique, critique, and really don’t add any new ideas. I’m not a self-centered sales manager but they make me want to be. Let me give you an example.


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Some time ago, I had a sales person go on an extended vacation before his one year anniversary. He actually demanded it because of how “hard” he had worked. I caved and went with it. He hadn’t really earned it but he was producing and I didn’t want to lose him. Anyways… while he was out I was left with his deal issues, closings, and talking with potential customers. After doing all this successfully, when he returned his attitude was less than stellar. Never a thanks, critiqued how I set up potential customers (which did close), and all in all felt that what I did was simply my job and less than what he could have done.

On a side note… He was fresh from college with no experience prior to my hiring him. I had put in an exhaustive amount of time in his training. Again, however, that was my job. No reason for him to recognize that he had received powerful experienced direction. It was all about him after all. He was, of course, entitled.

Technically he was right. It was my job. I really had no problem with the added workload and rest assured I had plenty of work to do already. It was his attitude that sent me spinning. This person obviously felt the world wrapped around him and he was entitled to an unearned extended vacation with everyone doing work for him. To me, he became a less-than employee at this point.

Where does this entitlement come from?

I really didn’t see much of this throughout my career. There were instances, of course, but those folks didn’t last long as that attitude wasn’t tolerated. Today, however, it has become so much more prevalent.

“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it.” ― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

I believe it started with a paradigm shift in parenting. For some time now so much effort has been put into the notion that our kids should never feel bad. Going so far as to build “bubbles” in which they can’t fail. Never feeling bad leads to being catered too. That’s simply not real. Because it’s not real leads to an interesting dilemma. When they get into the “real world” they can’t cope. They are demanding what they have been used to. Their world has been an entitled one.

Why is entitlement a business problem?

Do you have sales folks that blast out emails to anyone and everyone because to work through the right people might slow them down? Might inconvenience them? I mean, after all, they are more important than all the other team members in getting answers right? They are entitled in getting multiple people working on the same problem right? No wasted business dollars there. Wrong.

How about those on your team that really can’t believe someone else isn’t doing “that” for them. “That” could be anything from calling the customer on issues to simply doing their paperwork. Their mantra is “you’re keeping me from selling”. What they are really saying is “you’re keeping me from doing what I like to do. I am entitled to only do what I like to do”. Really? Again wasted business dollars.

“Man is not, by nature, deserving of all that he wants. When we think that we are automatically entitled to something, that is when we start walking all over others to get it.” ― Criss Jami

Entitled salespeople ultimately build animosity and if not dealt with can become a team and company issue. Seriously, who doesn’t want the world to wrap around them. It simply doesn’t work that way. It really can become a business cancer.

What’s the solution then?

It starts in the hiring process. A clear message needs to be sent that there is no such thing as entitlement within your organization. Everything is earned.

This then needs to be reinforced as the new sales person progresses with the company. Never should they receive something without actually earning it. Not by their standards but by the companies clear and focused standards. Make sure that rewards and such don’t become entitlements as well. Non-entitlement is really a company culture if done properly.

Take some time, hire the right people, and make your processes specific and goals earned. Reinforce the non-entitlement message regularly and you will keep the “bad apple” from ruining your team and company animosity to a minimum.

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Chris Lott has this crazy creative side that motivates him to design websites and write articles. He's a disruptive technologist and is passionate about sales, family, and anything related to technology. See what others are saying about his work!.


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