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Article authored by Qualigence CEO & founder Steve Lowisz

Is there anything more frustrating?

You know exactly the type of person I’m talking about…

The person who asks for a raise six months after they started.

Or the person who wants a promotion…but can’t point to what they’ve achieved in their current role.

If you’re a leader, you’ve probably dealt with entitled employees before.

It can be very grating. But what if leaders are more responsible for these situations than we realize?

Setting Expectations Upfront

I know how frustrating it can be when someone asks for a promotion or raise for no good reason.

But let’s take a step back here.

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to set clear expectations from day one.

Every new hire should know exactly WHAT is expected of them – and WHEN it is expected.

They should know what qualifies as “expected” performance. They should also know what qualifies as going above and beyond – and what will earn them a raise or promotion.

This is all part of the pre-hire negotiation. The employer agrees to pay X amount of money, while the employee agrees to handle a specific list of responsibilities.

Entitlement Often Springs from Confusion Around Expectations

I often find that an “entitled attitude” is a result of miscommunication around expectations.

For example, say a leader believes their sales rep needs to sell $500,000 a year to earn a raise.

Meanwhile, the sales rep thought $350,000 in new revenue would earn them a raise AND a promotion.

It’s a recipe for frustration on both sides. However, the whole thing can be avoided if the leader is very clear from day one about what a sales rep needs to do to earn a raise or promotion!

Some leaders set expectations without even realizing it.

They give out raises anytime someone seems unhappy – then get surprised when people act entitled. The more you try to pacify people, the more people will feel entitled.

Don’t Blame Employees if You Didn’t Set Expectations!

The only thing worse than setting bad expectations is setting NO expectations.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many leaders unknowingly do. They assume their teams will read their minds.

They don’t communicate their expectations, but they expect teams to view “exceptional performance” the same way they do.

And then we’re surprised when our employees aren’t delivering the way we want them to. Go figure.

Sure, some people just go through life with an entitled attitude. We’ve all met a person like that. Ideally, we identify these people in the interview process.

You can do this by asking someone what they expect for career progression in 1-3 years. This can give an idea of whether they have realistic expectations or not, and how they expect to earn advancement.

You might also ask candidates what they were grateful for at their last job. People with an entitled attitude are rarely grateful for anything!

There’s Nothing Wrong with Asking for More

People can get emotional when someone is asking for a hand-out. Nobody likes someone who expects something for nothing.

However, there’s nothing wrong with an employee asking their leader for additional consideration.

If they do, then it’s time to sit down and negotiate. Ask your team member – “help me understand the additional value you’re bringing.”

Ask them to walk you through the additional responsibilities they’ve taken on, how they’ve gone above and beyond, or what exceptional successes they’ve achieved lately.

Part of a healthy workplace is making sure people are rewarded for their efforts. It does wonders for employee morale to give them opportunities to highlight the results of their work, and potentially walk away with rewards for their hard work.

Even when you have to decline a raise or promotion, these conversations are a chance to set the record straight. Give the employee clear expectations of what they need to do next to earn the reward they’re looking for.

SMART goals are incredibly valuable here. Remember, a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

You may not like the idea of opening your door to let people ask you for anything. But that’s far better than watching good people quit because they never felt comfortable asking for a raise!

From Entitled to Empowered

Have you ever noticed that entitled people are never very happy?

It’s because most things have been given to them. They’ve never experienced earning rewards for themselves.

They go through life reliant on others to fix their problems or give them unearned rewards.

As a leader, you can offer someone a chance to change their outlook on life. Show them the rewards they can gain – and inspire them to earn it for themselves. Give them a chance to learn the value of putting in the time and getting real results, even when the going gets tough.

A leader’s job is not to make people happy – it’s to help people grow. Sometimes that means helping someone with a simple change in perspective!

If you’re serious about increasing your effectiveness as a leader or developing your leadership internally, check out my leadership development experiences. I teach from my own experiences, successes and failures in over 20+ years of business leadership – and give you the tools to inspire your teams to perform.