My first job was at a summer camp. I was a counselor for boys aged 6 to 12. A week before camp opened, we counselors had to show up to get the camp ready. After the first day, one of the counselors let out a huge sigh and said “Why didn’t they just hire someone to do ALL THIS WORK?” My friend looked at her sideways and said “They did…they hired us.”
It was a long and difficult summer for that counselor. Since then, I have met lots of people like her. They are the kind of employees who feel they are above the work they were hired to do, or feel that they’re owed something special for showing up. This type of employee can drive a boss nuts. So, if you want to be a rocking employee in your boss’s eyes, humility is the first step.
I have yet to meet anyone who recognized their own sense of entitlement, so here is your Entitlement Assessment. Count how many of following statements apply to you. Be honest.
- You think you have duties that are beneath you.
- You often feel your ideas are superior to others.
- You complain about being treated unfairly.
- You believe the only appropriate type of feedback is the positive kind.
- You get upset when you get just an average score on your progress report.
- You often find yourself sitting in meetings feeling like you have more important things to do.
- You often put required job tasks you don’t like at the bottom of your to-do list.
- You believe it’s ok to do your job the way you think it should be done even though you’ve been told otherwise.
- You find yourself telling your boss how you think he/she should be running things.
- You treat those above you better than those below you.
0 – You’re already rocking
1 to 3 – You’re normal
4 to 6 – Oops…time to take theprima donna crown off and go live among the peasants for while
7 to 10 – Look out….your boss and teammates are dreaming of the day you move on (or planning a way to speed that process up)
When I young, I remember my dad standing at the kitchen sink washing the oil and grime off his hands after coming home from work one day. I asked him “Dad, I thought you were a big shot salesman with an office. Why are you hands so dirty?” It would have been awesome if he said something like “Kid, sometimes you need to do what’s right and go down into the trenches and get your hands dirty.” In truth, he said something like: “I sell tires and sometimes I have to put them on. Go help your mother set the table.”
Through his actions, my dad did teach me a few things about the right attitude towards work:
- Nothing is owed to me, and nothing is beneath me.
- It’s a privilege to have my job.
- I’m responsible for what happens to me.
- What I want is not as important as what the team needs.
I think about these principles every day and they often bring me down to earth when I’m at the center of the universe.
What would your guiding principles look like?