entitlement at work

#56 Entitlement at Work: When They Owe You

If you feel you’ve ‘earned’ your keep, if you believe they ‘owe’ you, then this blog post is a must read. Learn about the effects of entitlement at work and how you may be selling yourself short.

On a Macro Level

There is no doubt you are a hard worker. You go above and beyond if you can. Colleagues enjoy your camaraderie, the boss trusts you, and you know how to be resourceful. In some respects, you are every employer’s dream.

In return for being a wonderful employee, you may feel a bit of entitlement at work. After all, they should owe you for your strenuous efforts and for cleaning up all those messes you didn’t ask for, right?

Your version of entitlement may look like:

  • I deserve XYZ for all I’ve done
  • I performed better than so-and-so and they should recognize that
  • This company would be hurting if it weren’t for my efforts
  • They could at least say “Thank you”
  • I expect to be compensated for this

On a macro level, entitlement at work means you believe you have the right to something. You believe they ‘owe’ you. 

On a Micro Level

Let’s dissect this a bit more. A person produces results ABC and consequently believes they are owed XYZ in return. This assumption presupposes there was some kind of per-arranged agreement or contract. 

For example, you pay Amazon $10 as you place an order for a book. You are then entitled to that new book. In this case, they owe you the new book. 

As an employee, you signed a contract to fulfill tasks associated with a job title. Thus, the employer owes you a compensation package as stated in the contract – no more, no less.

When you anticipate or expect entitlements at work, above and beyond your compensation package, you engage in career attachment. On a micro level, career attachment is when you rely on external outcomes (entitlements) to fulfill an internal, emotional need (See Post #35). 

If you are attached to specific outcomes at your external job, then you set yourself up to be internally disappointed. The reason is because outcomes are beyond your control.

When You’re Missing the Point

What I’m about to state could pose a new way of thinking for you. It may frazzle your brain, so bear with me and try to be open-minded.

One purpose in life is to overcome obstacles so we can transform into a higher version of ourselves. A way to do this is through our job. It is virtually impossible to beat challenges and improve emotional maturity if you depend on certain outcomes (such as a promotion, a bonus, a thank you, etc).

It is possible to rid yourself of the desire for entitlements at work, i.e. to detach yourself from your job. Here is a brain exercise to get you started. These questions will help you shift focus away from the externals and toward internal recognition. Warning: answers require deep levels of thinking!

  • Can internal acknowledgement of your own work ethic and your own work efforts serve as your reward? 
  • Is it remotely possible to remove the desire for external recognition knowing you learned some things and grew your intellect?
  • What if your spirit knew how hard you worked and that in and of itself is good enough?
  • What if you laid your head down at night with the visceral satisfaction of knowing you did the best job you could?

The conclusion, my friends, is that when you chase and obtain external rewards, they are often not ‘good enough’ and you will continue the cycle of chasing. The point of work isn’t to fulfill your emotional needs. The point of work is to face and defeat all the pains, challenges, and undesirable events to upgrade yourself.

Podcast Episode: Entitled Engineers

I experienced the phenomenon of expecting rewards during my days as a young engineer. I share my own pain and suffering due to entitlements at work in this podcast episode. Don’t make the same mistakes I made:

6:59 Why I felt like a “complete failure” after obtaining my master’s degree in engineering
13:00 Why I walked away from the life I worked so hard to create
18:03 When family and friends don’t ‘get’ your problems
25:45 The profound life question that haunted me as an unemployed professional
28:43 The dangerous disconnect between entitlements and reality
34:23 My best quote and one question for engineers who want to be happy

What are you attached to in the workplace, is there something they owe you … tell me about it!

If you enjoy this content, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and ask me about free strategy sessions for your career!

Categories: Career Expectations