Entitlement Is A Silent Killer Of Business
Entitlement is a stealthy and dangerous virus that has a widespread and abundant impact in your business. Often it becomes so rampant and normal that multi-unit franchisee owners do not even know there are any entitlement issues going on right in front of them.
Let's start with understanding entitlement. Simply, it is when an individual believes they deserve to be treated differently than the rest of those around them. In business, entitlement exists when an employee or senior executive believes they should receive better or different treatment than their coworkers. There are a number of examples, but there are a few that have significant impact.
One example is with the long-time employee - the one that has been with your organization the longest and has "tenure." It is very common in this scenario for an employee to have a sense of privilege. They justify the fact that they are the most seasoned employee with the organization, and even because of their invested time, they "are" or "carry the load" for the organization.
If this behavior is not addressed, you can expect to see additional means of justification present themselves. It can show as a lack of teamwork and performance as compared to others, as selling themselves as the critical ingredient to the team/business instead of part of the business. Even worse, it can show in interactions with customers. This is especially critical if the long-term employee is disgruntled or does not feel as if they are getting the pay, benefits, or recognition they deserve.
Entitlement, regardless of source, can silently kill your business from the inside out. The individuals that feel privileged carry themselves with an overly confident attitude. They often take on more authority on decision-making than their role encompasses and will make statements or pass judgment to others as if they are speaking on the owner's behalf. This may harmfully sway the opinions of other team members and can cause low morale. An entitled attitude can also bring fraudulent activities against your business. This is especially true if the franchise owner has placed more trust in a long-term employee that knows their way around the system and knows how to manipulate process/procedure or the owner.
Overcoming or protecting you and your business from this form of entitlement is not always easy. There is often a sense of obligation to long-term employees because they have devoted their careers to you. The reality of the situation is that tenure does not dictate dedication or give a pass on performance. To combat this type of behavior, ensure your performance reviews include criteria to balance out the perceived "tenure power." Here are some examples on how to ensure you are setting the tone of equality in your franchise:
- Address the issue! When the long-term employee makes statements about their time devoted or their dedication, address it. Saying nothing is not an option as it gives the employee a false sense of being right. However, if you respond with a simple statement that clarifies tenure does not dictate the level of loyalty, you usually stop it in its tracks.
- Institute performance measures that are quantitative. This means that everyone is reviewed and analyzed across the same performance criteria. Sometimes you find that the entitled employee does not work as hard as their co-workers because they have justified they have proven themselves to you.
- Design a recognition program. Employee of the month programs or programs that recognize employee contributions throughout the year go a long way in putting everyone on the playing field.
- Be an owner, not a friend. Long-time employees are like family in the business. They have been with you for a significant amount of time. However, just like working with family in the business, you must be the owner and/or a "performance coach" instead of the friend while working. This helps to create clear boundaries while maintaining relationships outside of work.
Though entitlement has many aspects and presents itself in an ever-expanding variety of ways, there are some common characteristics that include: the attitude of being special, being owed something, refusing to accept responsibility, making excuses, deferring of blame, and lacking an understanding of the impact of ones' behavior on others.
Remember, in the case of the long-term employee or executive, their relationship with you has likely grown to feel like one of family. So as you identify entitlement in your organization, address it from a compassionate center as there has likely been some enablement present in the organization. Otherwise, there is a high chance of coming off as harsh or judgmental and the effort to address and rectify the needed attitude adjustment may be counterproductive.
Once we have identified how to spot entitlement and have built in some protective measures, we can focus on their growth, their change, and their well being and prosperity. We can help them:
- Accept the cold hard facts, strains, stresses, and demands of reality
- Take responsibility for what's theirs to own
- Shoulder the weight of their own life.
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