"My Employees Are the Problem"

"My Employees Are the Problem"

Tips for Addressing Entitlement and Other Employee Issues

Managing people can be a rewarding job, but it can be difficult when you are faced with issues such as motivating part-time employees, encouraging employees who have a sense of entitlement, and rallying dysfunctional teams you didn’t have the luxury of choosing. When the issue you face is a people challenge, the best path to greatness is to reexamine your approach and then look for creative ways to build trust and healthy relationships.

Understanding Employee Behavior

There are many forces that drive employee behavior, from job roles and responsibilities, to family and life situations. When an employee does something once, it’s an anomaly; twice is a coincidence; and three times is a pattern. Understanding why a pattern of behavior is developing, whether good or bad, is critical to creating a great workplace.

However, take care not to assign motivation to a pattern of behavior without first sitting down and asking the employee why he or she is doing something. Once you understand why an employee is behaving a certain way, then you can set realistic goals to manage that behavior.

Defining and Addressing Psychological Contracts

Included under the umbrella of entitlement issues are psychological contracts, which are the unspoken beliefs employees have about what is required and what is expected. For example, if a new hire is told there is flexibility, they will assume there is a degree of latitude in terms of their schedule and workflow that is not explicitly stated in the employee handbook. However, when employees’ psychological contracts are not in line with actual workplace culture and goals, they may expect more than what is provided, resulting in morale issues.

To ensure employee psychological contracts are in line with the company mission, vision and culture, consider the nature of your work and its meaning to employees and answer these questions:

  • What are the basic beliefs that motivate and engage employees?

  • How do these employee beliefs shape our organization’s values?

  • What policies, practices and programs can we address or implement to align employees’ beliefs with the actual company values?

Ways to Engage Part-Time Employees

Some of the ways you can motivate part-time employees to run with the vision of your organization include:
  • Convey to them how their work is making a difference in the company.

  • Include them in safety, accountability and company culture initiatives.

  • Solicit their feedback and involve them in the life of your business.

  • Set an example by treating them with respect in front of full-time workers.

  • Make sure they are equipped with the training and resources needed to do their job.

Download the No Excuses! Whitepaper to learn more about how any manager can overcome the most common challenges to building a great workplace.

Jennifer Robin, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow, former Senior Consultant with Great Place To Work® Institute, and co-author of No Excuses: How You Can Turn Any Workplace Into a Great One and The Great Workplace:  How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters.