In previous columns, I talked about risk and taking vague direction and running with it. This month we will explore a related topic entitlement and work ethic. Our organization does not buy into the notion that Millennials don’t work as hard as previous generations or other similar stereotypes. Some of the hardest working people on our staff are young Millennials. That being said, there is a cultural problem unique to the time we live in that is becoming more of a problem: entitlement.
The digital age has certainly made this more of a problem because so many people are connected and aware of what others have and are doing that we are becoming obsessed with fairness and equality in all things. This is leading to an erosion of the value of humility and hard work. People want everything faster and easier and how can you blame them. Nearly anything you want is a click away in todays society. We are being programmed to think about everything in that way, but it never translates to the workplace. I see many people who have unrealistic career goals and, if those goals are not being met by their current organizations, they are far too vocal about it.
Dont get me wrong, I love ambition; that is the focus of this column every month. But ambition is strategic, it is humble, and it is focused on whatever it takes to advance. Entitlement on the other hand is not strategic, it is not humble, and it believes in getting things before they are earned. You must earn your way in a career today, just like you did 50 years ago. Career development is not faster and easier today. In fact, it is harder in many ways. Just as there are now hundreds of choices for every product you can imagine, there are hundreds of people who can do your job, and that makes you lucky to have your job.
All the firm leaders I work with value and notice work ethic or lack of it every day in their people. Work ethic does not develop with an entitlement mindset. It develops from a humility and willingness to do anything at any level to advance the company and themselves. Be realistic about what it takes to get ahead in the workplace and make sure you are giving 110 percent before you go on a campaign to expose the so-called injustices of the system. You will be noticed for hard work eventually, and you will be rewarded more than you can imagine. And always remember this: You are not entitled to anything, ever.
Chad Clinehens, P.E., is Zweig executive vice president. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.