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Entitlement in the workplace

On the Six Sigma site the alternate definition of entitlement is ‘A perceived "right to demand." Opposite of a gift, in that it is without appreciation. A "you owe me" obligation for which, I owe nothing in return.’

The original definition of entitlement was a right granted by law or contract, for example a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group.

Do you see attitudes of entitlement in your workplace?

I am entitled because…..
• I have this title.
• I have been at this job a long time.
• I’ve always had this responsibility.
• I worked extra hours.
• I have these degrees and experiences.

Never mind that the achievements don’t measure up to the sense of entitlement. Anyone can spend hours at work and not work efficiently or not contribute in a way an organization needs. Or not look at a problem in an unbiased manner. Or rest on old achievements. Or be the most vocal.

There’s little civility in the alternate definition of entitlement.

The sense of entitlement gets wrapped up in ego, in complacency. It’s not ethical. It’s not humble. It’s not honest.

I have felt entitled in the workplace. And then I’d get a jolt of reality when someone else was given assignments I thought should be mine or I wasn’t invited to a meeting. My believing I was entitled led to an attitude that didn’t help me and didn’t help my organization.

Look around to see how pervasive this attitude and take a look at yourself too. What we’re truly entitled to—a safe environment, a minimum wage—is far different from what we might think we are entitled to. Honestly.....I don’t think we’re entitled to much at all.

Think about it and let me know.


I agree completely. When I get too full of myself and start feeling "entitled," I step back and remind myself that instead, I should feel lucky -- because I have a cushy university job that I enjoy, despite the changes, despite the uncertainty. Face it -- in this office and throughout the university (unless you work on grounds crew, maintenance, custodial or some other area that requires hard physical labor), we all have cushy jobs. We sit on our buts in front of computers and get to use our brains. All I have to do is remind myself that I don't have to sling hay bales, fork silage, shovel literal manure (though I may deal with figurative manure), or milk cows (all of which I have done earlier in my lifetime).

"Entitled to" can certainly be perceived as a negative attitude to possess. Usually what we "have" is something we have "earned" - such as respect from others, fair treatment in the workplace, recognition/praise for a job well done. If you feel you are "entitled" to certain prestige that comes from your education, your last name, your accumulated wealth, your appearance, etc. then you have an ego problem that will make you very hard to work with and extremely unlikable. Humility is a beautiful thing - and is never a quality of someone who feels he/she is "entitled" to lots of things in life and work.

Ah - interesting topic for a nasty winter day. I remember a supervisor once saying to a group of staff who were whining that no one owed them a job. That has stuck with me for years. Whenever I get a bit "righteous" about something transpiring in the extension system or just my daily lot in the workplace, I remember that comment.