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6 tips for managing entitled employees

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read
6 Tips For Managing Entitled Employees

People can be difficult, and if issues are allowed to fester in the workplace, processes can be interrupted. Being an effective people leader requires some initiative in handling these challenges.

Workplace expert Michelle Gibbings noted that entitlement can be rife in the workplace. Leaders must be prepared for these challenges. To assist, here are six tips for dealing with entitled workers:

  1. Know the warning signs

“Entitlement at work can take many forms. For example, your team member can expect more pay than their peers, even though they do less work and add less value. They may expect always to be promoted, offered the best opportunities or receive a bonus every year, even if the company’s performance has deteriorated. They may assume they can pick and choose the tasks they want to do, have their organisation or boss manage their career for them, or take breaks, holidays or time off whenever it suits them,” Gibbings said.


“It’s all ‘me, me, me’, and they rarely (if ever) consider the impact their behaviour or ‘wants’ have on those around them. They see themselves as ‘number one’.”

  1. Clarify expectations

Gibbings said: “With entitlement, there is a gap in expectations. The best way to address this is to talk with the team member.”

The purpose of the conversation is to get clear on the following:

  • Their expectations
  • Your expectations
  • The gap between the two

“For example, if they expect a pay rise, discuss what they must demonstrate to secure a pay rise. If the team member always wants the Friday off before a public holiday, work through the options and what is fair for other team members,” she said.

  1. Get ready for the conversation

“Don’t walk into a conversation of this nature unprepared. You want to get ready for it. For example, think about the best time of day and be equipped with specific situations to discuss with your team member. This conversation isn’t one-sided. Seek to understand your team member’s motivation and career drivers and approach the discussion openly. There may be some legitimacy to their claims or expectations. Be ready to hear their perspective,” Gibbings said.

“When you have that information, you can work through the options and be specific about what’s realistic, given their role and contribution.”

“Ideally, you will both walk away from the conversation understanding each other’s perspective and have aligned expectations and a clear way forward. Despite securing agreement on the way forward, recognise that the commitment to change (and seeing evidence of the change) may take several conversations.”

  1. Monitor progress

“You will want to monitor outcomes and their progress. Notice where you see improvement and where you aren’t. For change to happen, they must want to change, and you need to hold them to their commitments. If they refuse to change, you need to consider their behaviour’s impact on the rest of the team and if that impact is reasonable and something you wish to accept. If it’s not, consider going down a formal performance improvement path,” she said.

  1. Be consistent and fair

“In your approach and the outcomes, you must consistently apply expectations with the team members and across the team. You don’t want to be unfair or play favourites. Team members are acutely aware of when leaders treat people differently. They notice when a person is rewarded or promoted unfairly. Of course, what is fair or unfair is based on a person’s interpretation of what’s happening, so perception plays a large part in a person’s view,” Gibbings said.

“Regardless of that perception’s merit (or otherwise), it negatively impacts individual motivation and the team’s morale and can lead to unethical behaviour. As a leader, you play a crucial role in ensuring that you pay your team members fairly and recognise their work and performance equitably.”

  1. Focus on teamwork

She concluded: “The emphasis is on teamwork, and while team members contribute in different ways, for a healthy team dynamic, you want each person appreciating the value their colleagues offer.”



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.