RSS Differentiating Between Wants and Needs

Have you ever felt that you were “owed” something by someone, maybe your employer, or even your boss? I’m sure everyone has at one time or another felt like this, and possibly deservedly so. This brings to mind a problem that I deal with at times, a perception of entitlement that can be, and usually is, different between one person and another.

Let’s take a personal example for a moment, and I’ll apologize in advance to my daughters for using them to make a point. I have three terrific daughters, the youngest now 19 years old. As they each entered their teenage years, it was obvious to my wife and me that none of them could differentiate very well their “wants” from their “needs.” It wasn’t enough for us to buy a pair of sneakers for basketball or a nice dress for a formal dance. No, they “needed” to have a specific brand of sneaker and a specific style of dress in order to be perceived in a way that would allow them to fit in and be more popular. Don’t get me wrong, I probably was the same way as a teenager. It’s just that this sense of heightened entitlement doesn’t really work in the real world. Or does it….

Have you ever worked at a place where one supervisor appears to be easier on their employees than another, often times giving greater salary increases than what the budget allows, or promoting employees faster than a similarly positioned supervisor in another department? I think about the impact of this on an organization, about how detrimental it is that these leaders can’t seem to get on the same page to manage employee expectations similarly.

Even now, this is one of the toughest things I deal with. Some supervisors simply don’t know how to say no to individuals who have a strong sense of entitlement, either because they have yet to become confident in the art of coaching, or because they simply find it easier to be well liked by avoiding what they may perceive as a possible confrontation. Even some leaders have a greater sense of entitlement than they should, as evidence by their willingness to spend organizational resources more freely than they would their own. Frankly, this is a pet peeve of mine. I certainly understand the concept that you have to spend money to make money. However, when it comes to working with individuals with a strong sense of entitlement, you must manage this perspective early and often, much as a parent needs to do with their child.

If you are a leader at an organization today, I ask you to think back to a time when a supervisor or peer was recognized or rewarded for an achievement that you didn’t feel deserving of, or where you may have been passed over for a promotion because someone else was a “squeakier wheel.” I know this isn’t a fun place to be, but it is a reality for all of us. Now as the leader in your organization today, what are you doing to create an environment where these types of practices are minimized or even avoided? Do you personally teach your supervisors how to manage your employees’ entitlement expectations appropriately? Do you manage your own entitlement expectations appropriately?

I don’t think you would be surprised to learn that many organizations do a very poor job of getting their leaders, let alone all of their team members, on the same page in this regard. And while this is often perceived as a financial issue, it is really more of a cultural one. As your organization continues to maneuver through this economic recession, think about what you can do right now to improve the entitlement psyche of your organization. It will pay huge dividends down the road.

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Home About Archive Mitch HagstromMitch Hagstrom
Executive Vice President
Chief Banking Officer
Pacific Continental Bank

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