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Events of recent have made me consider the term “entitlement” and scrutinize the circumstances surrounding people who claim to have rights to entitlement.

Let me give a bit of a background…I recently experienced a situation where I sat in a meeting listening to employees moaning and groaning about one small part of their job that they didn’t like (this task requires 4 hours of their time outside of their normal work hours).  I gave them the opportunity to have a forum to discuss this particular task and to come up with ideas on how to share responsibility on this task. Instead, all I got was:

“I do not like doing this but I see other staff are motivated to do this so why don’t you assign this task to those people and I will do my tasks that I like.”

My response:  You all are here because you applied for this job and if this is too much for you to do, then you have a choice on whether to stay in this job or not.  You all were hired because I saw wonderful qualities in each of you and your willingness to be dedicated to your job.  I certainly hope that you all understand that there are tasks in each job that is detestable but can be worked through quickly so more energy may be focused on the enjoyable tasks.

“I have to come in to do this task and it interferes with my family plans and it is contributing to the downspiral of my morale.”

My response:  I’m sorry to hear about the hardship it is creating.  This is a matter of perspective – allowing this one minor task to overshadow the other great parts of the job and again, you do have a choice on whether you want to stay here or not.

“I expect to work Mondays through Thursdays and not have to do that four hours of that particular task.  It should be assigned to another department.  It is not fair to us.”

My response: I see that you desire to have ideal work hours.  Our situation does not permit for that.  (I then went on to explain the history of this task and how it was always under our department).  I shall ask other departments to see if this task can be assigned, but knowing the situation, the answer from them may not be optimal to you.

Coming away from this meeting, it struck me that the work ethics have changed quite a bit.  When did employees suddenly develop this sense of entitlement and the right to decide what tasks they shall do or not do?  Is it just this workplace or is it happening everywhere else?  What happened to the good sense where employees understand that they were hired to do their jobs and that their entitlement has to be earned through hard work, dedication, and respect to the system?  Is it the fault of American culture that promotes the decay of the family unit, the American culture that encourages countless lawsuits over minor incidents, the American culture that allows the government to shut down for 14 days because fewer people cared enough to vote in the right representatives of their government?

I am racking my brain for the answer…the only thing I can come up with is this:  Our American culture has decayed into a state where certain things that were taken for granted 30 years ago has fallen by the wayside.  For example, it was unspoken 30 years ago that we did not raise our voice to our elders and our bosses as a sign of respect.  Another illustration: We know we cannot expect to instantaneously attain full knowledge in life at the ripe old age of 20-25…our knowledge comes through experience and with that, we know the customary route to working our way up is to start at the bottom and learn the ropes without whining and to have a strong desire to learn and expand.  This doesn’t seem to be the case with the younger generation (based only on my experiences – you may choose to differ with me).  Final point:  the current generation seems to expect instant gratification and this may be the result of several things: how we reinforce younger generation through reinforcement, the quick progress of technology where practically everything is at our fingertips, and so on.  

Entitlements

My statements above is based my own perspective and experience.  I realize that not everyone may have the same experiences I have.  Yet, I have this strong dread that our conceived work ethics of 30 years ago appears to be a dying culture.  I say this because I live in the city and I see too many things happening in the schools and on the streets and it gives a sense of desperation that the culture I once knew may be disappearing.  However, I hold out hope that our society will eventually see the error in its way and correct itself.  The way to do it is to help one person at a time and to remain steadfast in our values and pray it will be contagious to others through living by example.

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