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Got Entitlement? Here Are 3 Warning Signs

culture leadership Dec 16, 2017

A year ago I had a challenge with a chef. He wasn’t open to new systems or following through on some projects he started. He basically just wanted to order high end ingredients and play with food. Didn’t care about food or labor costs because that would stifle his “creative genius”.

We had a coaching session one afternoon and I mentioned the challenge of our industry changing and that he needed to adjust his skill sets to focus more on business. His only comments were:  he felt he worked his ass off,  he deserved a promotion (a better title) and he wanted more money.

As he walked away, I felt frustrated, and a little pissed off.

How could he be so blind as to his real performance level?

How could he not see that he was focused on just what was in this for himself?

I knew unless something changed, we would be having a different conversation in the near future about him leaving the company (that conversation happened about 2 months later).

Write this down: There is no room for an entitlement mindset on your team. None. It creates a passive team and there is zero room in today’s market for anyone on your team to be passive about their work and their own development. The restaurant industry is changing and those that fail to adapt will become extinct.

Here are 3 warning signs of entitlement to watch for in your restaurant:

1. I Earned It.

This boastful attitude is one that believes that the restaurant owners should be overcome with joy to even have them on the team. These people think that the business would fail if they left. It is when a person loves to tell the stories of success in the past but appears unmotivated or even lazy when it comes to engaging the work needed for the future. They live in the past and “what they did”.

Hey, you can’t win today’s game with the points you scored last week. They never say thank you for the opportunity to work on the team or express gratitude for the compensation the company provides. They respond to carrot & stick motivation (well, they don’t like the stick) and the problem is that they are never happy with the carrot you give them because they always feel they earned a bigger carrot than the rest of the team.

2. It Isn’t Fair.

What is fair? What one person thinks is fair might not be the same for another person on the team. Fairness is defined by the individual’s own perspective of fair not an independent measure (its subjective). They compare themselves to the work environment of the past (when I worked at so-n-so they did this) and resist change.

They also spend a great deal of time comparing their job, their position, and their work to others both inside and outside the company (you know that place down the street offers dental insurance). Their view is clouded by their own bias with no interest in the facts. Watch for the person who uses fairness as the measure for their own performance.

They also tend to tend to think that the owners make "tons" of money and are being too greedy. They forget that the owners worked hard for years to get to the status they are currently at and (most likely) earned the money they make today. Entitlement mindsets wants the shortcut without the time or other sacrifices usually required for long term success and rewards. 

3. The Company Owes Me.

This individual can easily lose sight of the full contribution of the team. They focus on themselves rather the organization. They often feel superior to others and are never satisfied with any reward or recognition. No restaurant thrives based on one person’s performance, however, that isn’t this person’s view. Often, their view that the company owes them is based on some past event or past contribution. They often feel that because they did something great yesterday, they deserve the rewards for their work forever. This individual may hold personal grudges and try to undermine leadership.

An entitlement culture is often a lazy culture with undercurrents of defiance and protest behavior (leaving early, not following through on tasks). It is a culture where the focus is on the person and not on the guests you serve or the restaurant as a team. There are lots of “I” statements in an entitlement culture and few “we” statements. Watch out for this as it is the catalyst to a toxic culture. Address it with urgency before this mindset spreads like cancer.

You know how to deal with cancer? Aggressively.

It also usually requires being removed.

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