Are you entitled?

I see a job as a simple exchange of goods and services. I provide my time for 40 hours a week and agree to perform a certain set of tasks. I may deviate from those tasks if other tasks are relevant to my role somehow, but for the most part I show up and perform a certain job. In exchange I receive financial compensation on an agreed upon interval. To put it simply, I do a job and I get paid. There may be other parts to this agreement, healthcare, paid time off, etc. Whatever was negotiated is what was understood. I take the job and I do my part and I expect my employer to do theirs.

I would say this is a somewhat oversimplified view of working, but talk of a career, team building, and other activities are not really a “job” per se. We may do a lot at our job that is not necessarily job related and our employers allow this because there is value in it. Networking with our peers is valuable. Mentoring new teammates is valuable. However, it is not part of your job though you could look at it as related tasks.

What I am getting at here is that outside of what was agreed upon, everything else your employer does is extra. There is no promise of annual compensation increases, promotions, corporate gifts during the holidays, or anything else that you may feel you are entitled to. I know many people who take jobs and then feel that they don’t make enough. I sympathize. I’ve worked the job where I was getting less than market value.

Unfortunately, what you negotiated is all you are entitled to. Anything more is at the whim of your employer. This may seem unfair, harsh, or cold, but it is a reality. I would argue that a good employer will work hard to keep valuable people. This isn’t about good vs. bad employers though. This is about attitude.

I don’t care for the entitled attitude because once it sets in you are probably going to lose that employee. You might be able to get them a compensation increase, maybe even as much as they want. That won’t satisfy them though. There is a deeper issue of dissatisfaction and it may not even be about work. They may not be happy with what they are doing for a living, they may regret their degree choice, they may have had a lifestyle change, and so on and so forth. An employer can only do so much to address this and I frankly don’t see it as my job to make sure employees are personally satisfied with their lives. The sense of entitlement towards a company, the feeling that they are being treated unfairly, usually fosters into resentment. In cases where it may have been caused by an employer it may be repaired if addressed early. If it is caused by outside factors though, such as an employee feeling they should make as much as a consultant you hired or their friends telling them they could do better, there isn’t much you can do except attempt to set expectations.

What’s sad is I have seen many a career sabotaged by a sense of entitlement. A promising employee performs well and suddenly feels underappreciated for their efforts. In turn their attitude towards co-workers and management turns sour and their work performance may begin to suffer. This usually leads to an employee resigning, but I have seen previously high performers end up getting fired or in the first round of layoffs.

Am I suggesting you should just put up with being dissatisfied at work? No, never. What I suggest is being proactive. Be honest about what you are unhappy with and be honest about how much your company can really do about it. If you can’t adjust your expectations and the company can’t satisfy you, leave before you do lasting harm to your career. All-in-all though, be careful about thinking you “deserve” something.

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Posted in Career Management, Work
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