Skip to main content

Managing Entitled Employees

November  2016

View as a pdf

Kari Olsen

In today’s workplace, more and more employees are displaying feelings of entitlement which is creating problems and frustrations for managers. Entitled individuals have a unique way of interacting and communicating with others, including managers. On the one hand, they have a strong desire for autonomy. Entitled individuals dislike the idea of being beholden to others or being told what to do. On the other hand, they also exhibit a strong preference for what is known as sociotropy, meaning that they place a high value on the approval and affection of others. These dual—and somewhat conflicting—preferences for interaction and communication create a significant challenge for managers dealing with entitled employees.

Recent research by Kari Olsen, Assistant Professor of Accounting at the Huntsman School of Business, and his colleagues Kip Holderness at West Virginia University and Todd Thornock at Iowa State University sheds light on how managers can more effectively manage entitled employees. Findings from their research include 1) ensure that communications about an entitled individual’s performance come from someone in a position of authority, especially when delivering negative performance feedback, 2) establish clear expectations about task responsibilities, but allow individuals the freedom to complete the tasks as they see fit, and 3) establish clear expectations about when and how performance evaluations will take place, but allow sufficient time between performance feedback episodes for employees to feel autonomous in their work. Following these management techniques, their research suggests that managers can manage entitled employees more effectively and realize greater performance.

Check out the full article in Strategic Finance at