Changing America’s Entitlement Culture to an Empowerment Culture

America was built by men and women who stood up on their own and created opportunities for themselves. The founding principles of this country dictate that we all have the ability to earn prosperity through whatever means necessary within the law. The Founders intended for this to be a nation where you were rewarded for your good behavior and for your hard work and your success.

Goals and dreams can only be attained through hard work and a willingness to never quit. Success is not going to chase you down; if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it.

So much of our society has become about what people are entitled to as opposed to what they have earned. Our society is rapidly moving from one of independence to one of dependence. The entitlement mentality is gripping America and destroying the fabric of our society.  The culture of entitlement is a “you owe me” attitude. The problem is that an entitlement culture denies individual responsibility and creates handy excuses for failure.

The entitlement culture that has been bred in America’s society only serves to deter people from the path to success. Entitlement is a perversion of reality. The reality is that no one owes us anything. Everything we have is a gift, right down to the air we breathe. Take responsibility for yourself and the personal choices you make. When we take responsibility for everything we experience, we are empowered and powerful to effect change.

If we strive to better ourselves with gratitude and ambition, our personal achievements will replace our sense of entitlement with a sense of accomplishment. Expressing gratitude for everything in our lives, including, the things that we would prefer to have been different, is powerful and empowering.

The workplace is a centerpiece of the nation’s economic performance, concern with productivity, quality, and competitiveness. The consequence of thinking yourself entitled to things you haven’t earned puts a company at a terrible disadvantage in a global marketplace. Companies exist to make money and employ people because it is necessary to reach the goal of maintaining and growing the business, and bringing value to customers. The quality of the workplace affects not only the individual enterprise and its employees, but also national economic growth and productivity performance.

The resulting effect on company culture and productivity can be damaging when employees begin to get this entitled feeling, it injures the company by weakening its culture and inhibiting results. People with entitlement attitudes tend to believe that their work should be valued highly by others regardless of its quality. An entitlement attitude makes it difficult to be appropriately self-critical and to accept constructive criticism from others. Entitled people resist stretching and accountability. We would be better off as business owners and members of society if we foster a culture of merit and empowerment as opposed to entitlement.

Creating a culture of merit in the workplace requires a strong refusal to let political correctness seep into one’s business psyche. Moving from a culture of entitlement to a culture of empowerment takes time and courage.  New expectations must be set and accountability established. Employees must also be shown how they can earn their way into merit. They must be given the tools, coaching, support, and leadership to make the transition. A culture of merit distributes recognition, rewards, and opportunities based on what each individual works for and earns.

Our company has always prided itself on having a “family” atmosphere. I think the family model is a good thing. But it’s important to recognize that a healthy, productive family teaches members to be self-reliant and responsible for their own behavior. That means they are given honest, constructive feedback in a way that preserves their self-esteem and helps them grow. Even though we tend to spoil  a little  like most families, our Avatel employees are enthused, energetic and passionate about their responsibilities, their co-workers, the customers and the company.

Now more than ever leaders need their employees to pull together as a team and build a corporate culture that effectively counters the entitlement trend. . All employees should be held accountable from the very top to the very bottom of the organization. This culture empowers individuals, holds them accountable, and that powerful combination drives success.

Jamie Wood,  Avatel EVP

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