Here we go again, the war on talent is back and has become a tougher battle than ever before. You can’t go into a meeting or corporate board room where you do not hear CEOs and C-Suite leadership teams talking about the biggest need they have, the one thing that is keeping them from growing and taking advantage of opportunity in the marketplace – finding talent.
For a multitude of reasons, it has become harder than ever to recruit, to engage and to retain talent. Employees are winning this war, and worse than that they know it. The balance of power has shifted, and if you own a business, unfortunately that shift is not in your favor.
So, with this war in full swing, and with the advantage being clearly in the employee’s favor, how much control do you really have as an employer? Can you demand more of your workforce? Can you afford to let employees go who are not meeting expectations? And how do you handle entitled employees?
The simple answer is – yes! It may be a challenge to find employees right now, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up control of how you want your team to perform, the experience you want your customers to have, and the results you need your organization to deliver.
5 Strategies To Win The Battle of The Entitled Employee
- Listen – It is clear you need your workforce to be as passionate as you are about the growth of your business, and the best place to start is by listening. More than anything people – whether employees or customers – want to be heard. Listening builds trust, it allows employees to get their frustrations out, and ensure you have created a platform to gather ideas for consistent improvement. Listening ensures you learn the exact information you need as a leader to help employees move beyond grievance and entitlement to ultimately driving performance.
To actively listen you need to ask great open-ended questions, be open to allowing others to speak, and listen fully before responding. Asking questions allows you to get your employees’ ideas heard first, and if you listen to them, they are far more willing to listen to you.
- Set Expectations – Sixty-seven percent of disciplinary issues are because employees do not know what is expected of them. Meaning they are doing one thing, when you, as the leader really want them to do something else. Understand that is your fault, not theirs, if you have not clearly communicated expectations.
Setting and communicating expectations ensures every member on the team understands clearly what they need to do in order to be successful and contribute to the company achieving their goals.
Every member of your team should know their top five priorities – behavior and results. The top five things they need to focus on every week. Knowing their priorities helps employees feel in control of how they are contributing, and empowered and proud they are making a difference.
- Divide The Herd – In all the years I have been doing this, I have found that employees fall into one of three categories. Twenty-percent are top performers, self-starters and over achievers. No matter what they are going to go all in and give you everything they have. Twenty-percent are under performers, no matter what they are going to underperform. Sixty-percent fall into the middle. They can go either way – over perform or under perform based on where you as the leader focus your time and attention. Focus your time and attention on trying to get the under performers to perform, and your middle group will gravitate that way. Focus your time and attention on the over performers and your middle group will increase performance. Yes, you really have that much control. You need to divide the herd. Forget about the under performers (for now) and focus on supporting and rewarding your top performers. Then watch as your middle sixty percent moves in that direction.
- Accountability – It may surprise you to know that top performers, your most engaged workers, want an environment of accountability. They want to work for someone that lets them know the rules, gives them the support and information they need to succeed at their jobs, and then holds everyone on the team to the same expectations.
Lack of accountability is one of the major reasons you lose top talent. Also, it is one of the biggest reasons your mediocre performers never improve. What is the point of improving if you do not hold people accountable?
So, once you have divided the herd, and focused on who is helping your company succeed, it is time to “handle” those under achievers. You either need to manage them up or manage them out.
Being fully staffed with some employees that perform and some that don’t, is far less productive than being under staffed with top performers. Have the courage to hold your team accountable.
- Take Ownership – As painful as this is to hear, if you have entitled employees, it is no one’s fault but your own. That may sound harsh, but if you think about it, it is quite empowering. Once you own it – you can change it. Learn to lead from a place of power rather than a place of fear and assert yourself. You, and you alone as the leader, have the power to reverse the entitled mentality in your organization. Listening to your team first ensures they know this is a culture where they have input and a say, but that needs to be balanced with boundaries and limits of how everyone (including customers, leadership and fellow team members) deserves to be treated in your company. Employees want to work in a positive environment, one where they feel they are working with leadership, rather than against. When you put these strategies into place you stand your best chance of positioning yourself to not only win the battle for talent but quite frankly win the war!