Dealing with Entitlement

Dealing with entitlements of customers and employees is a growing concern for business leaders. For example, in an online discussion, a person was upset about a restaurant wanting to charge for extra lettuce on his sandwich. How dare they! I watched the thread as people grew angry because a restaurant dared to charge for requested extra ingredients. As restaurant customers, we now feel entitled to request a drink to take out after the meal is over at no additional charge, we want adjustments or modifications to most meals we order, and we expect additional food to be added to our order at no charge with the exclamations:

“It’s only a couple of lemon wedges.”
“Of course I get a refill, that is why it is self-serve.”
“How much could lettuce cost?”

What about as employees?

He has been fired for poor performance after being employed with this company for less than a year. He expects the employer to give him a three-month severance package.

She shows up for work high, but tells her boss not to worry because it won’t affect her abilities on the job.

He steals company property and says it’s acceptable behavior because he’s decided he doesn’t get paid enough and the company owes him..

As head-scratching as these examples are, these are actual examples of entitlements I see in my client businesses. Business leaders are encountering a new wave of expanding entitlements from customers and employees.

Managing entitlements

Whether you are working with customers’ entitlements or employees’ entitlements, communication is important. Will we ever get rid of the free refill or drink to-go after the meal expectations? In short, no. That is now an embedded part of our culture. But communicating with customers is important. If, as a restaurant owner, you’ve decided not to increase your prices even though your vendors have, and decided to only charge for “upgrades,” let your customers know. You were looking out for most of the customers who don’t ask for the extras by keeping your prices down. Most will appreciate the honesty.

Today employees are rarely being taught what being employed means. Leaders are wise to invest training time with newly hired employees about the culture of work in your establishment. This doesn’t only apply to those making minimum wage. I’m seeing many young people fresh out of college get their first job when they begin their careers.

Begin with your interview process. Inform potential employees of your expectations of employment. We are in an age where we need to teach people what work is, before we teach them what is required to be successful in their job performance.