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Monday, July 18, 2011

Whiny, Entitled Employees? Blame Their Professors

Is your office plagued by whiny, entitled employees? Turns out they've had years of grade and ego inflation. Here's how to restore peace and tranquility to your staff.

To read more click: Whiny, Entitled Employees? Blame Their Professors


Anonymous said...

This is also great advice for professors! I wish more of them would take this approach to classroom management.

The Lamb said...

That's a fresh perspective for me, Suzanne, thank you for the article. You are sure (and I agree) that 43% of all employees cannot be top performers; what would be a 'normal' percentage of employees who perform above expectations?

Suzanne Lucas said...

The Lamb--

That's a really good question. I think the answer would vary from industry to industry and department to department.

I'm not a super big fan of forced ratings distribution, but i certainly see the benefits of it. If you're going to do a forced distribution, then you can assume a normal curve and force people into it.

That's not always fair, though.

It's really difficult!

Mike C. said...

This issue is a giant pain from my experience because my alma mater has had very very little grade inflation over the 55 years they've been around. Maybe 0.1% of students graduate with a perfect 4.0.

It's no fun when certain jobs have a minimum GPA but don't consider the distribution of grades or the caliber of work being done.

Suzanne Lucas said...


That's another big problem! If everybody but you inflates grades, then your students look stupid.

In order for the system to function properly, everyone has to play along.

FrauTech said...

Okay but in this economy, how is this even a problem? Are employers really writing in that their young interviewees are too entitled? I have an easy answer! Don't hire that person!

Like Mike said, not every institution inflates (they found the more elite the institution, the more likely to inflate). I'm tired of seeing minimum GPAs on entry level jobs. I worked full time my whole degree and my GPA certainly shows it. So don't knock me out of the running immediately just because my GPA is below a 3.5, okay?

Maybe people in corporate are bummed the new hires they want to hire at half the cost of the 40 year old guy they just laid off are not worn down, humble, desperate and willing to take anything. If you don't like a person's attitude, stop hiring them. If we keep hiring entitled Ivy Leaguers they will keep graduating with entitled attitudes. The market can fix this one if hiring managers put in a little effort.

Suzanne Lucas said...

Frau Tech,

The reality is, many managers are terrible at interviewing. And the other reality is, HR departments love hard line qualifications like minimum GPAs because when someone threatens a lawsuit for discrimination of some sort, it's wonderful to be able to say, "no illegal discrimination here! Your GPA was 3.46 and we have a 3.5 minimum!"

the viking or the celt said...

One more comment, if I may (sorry for the long windedness). Your response on BNET to rachaelmarquard?

You are officially my business heroine! You totally get it. :)

the viking or the celt said...

I don't like the title, because the problem starts BEFORE college. My husband teaches at a university (he may leave a comment as well) and has to deal with first-semester freshmen who are already accustomed to "but I showed up and turned in all the work (even if not on time), so why am I not getting an A?" He deals with this whiny, entitled behavior every semester. He knows grade inflation is a problem at the university level as well, because he gets comments about how he's too hard...but he grades with C as average and A as excellent, well-above-average work.

Did you know that professors get a "talking-to" if they have "too many" low grades (Ds or Fs) in a semester, but not if they have way too many As?

This is an admin problem. And it's an educational problem in general. Heck, it's a problem with parents mollycoddling their kids. Here's an example from a top-notched, college prep high school where I worked to show how wide-spread and prevalent this issue is:

Competition is tight at this particular school. Obviously, not all students that go here are of the same caliber, so not everyone should get all As. This is the same everywhere. But when kids are in the "regular" classes and not the AP or honors courses, they get made fun of here. Parents tend to be VERY involved, because they are spending a lot of money to send their kids there.

Some parents are overly involved and badger teachers to grade higher when report card time comes. At the end of the year, this is especially prevalent, because it can determine if their kids are in the honors or AP courses or not. Teachers do not feel as though they have admin backup, so they go ahead and bump grades, sometimes a whole letter, because a few of the parents are relentless and education jobs are hard to come by these days. You might want to blame the teachers, but they aren't far from true as to whether admin will back them up. Some will, some won't. Parents know which ones won't stand up to pressure, and they go to those admin.

I feel that this issue has been trickle UP. It started in elementary school, got worse in high school, continued in some college classrooms (making it hard for teachers and professors who don't inflate grades), and is becoming more and more of a problem in the workplace. I hate it, and I wrote a paper on it when I was in college (years ago) about how if it continued in high schools, it was going to get worse in colleges due to student expectations and willingness to badger professors and admin after seeing their parents do it. (Students are also more willing to be belligerent about how right they are and how wrong the professor is, to both the professor and administrators, even when they missed two or more weeks of classes and turned in the majority of papers late. Hey, they were there most of the time and turned all their work in, right?)

Some workplaces aren't helping either, these days. I remember reading an article a few years ago where they had a position for a person who basically cheered on the younger recruits for doing a good job. I mean basic things, too, not going above and beyond. The article mentioned that getting these people to work on time was a problem, so they would sprinkle confetti on their desks and make a big deal if they were on time three days in a row. This person's only job was to go around doing things like that and cheering on work behavior that we generally consider basic. (You only took a half-hour for your lunch today and yesterday, as per your contract! Have a cupcake for dessert! You didn't leave early yesterday! Have a gift certificate!) Ugh.

Where does it end?

(This is the jesusita_1995 Jessica, in case you remember our previous correspondence. :) )

Suzanne Lucas said...

the viking or the celt--

Thanks for your longwinded comment! It's a super big problem (that's my technical term for it). Parents who coddle their children and the schools that allow it are destroying society, and I don't say that lightly.

And I'm glad you think that I get it. Education is a big deal for me. I wanted to be a professor, but when I realized that teaching is denigrated, I decided to do something else, which I'm eternally grateful for.

Anonymous said...

I second the "problem starts with the parents and grade school" as thankfully I'm in a research position right now and don't have to deal with grading college students for a while. I saw my peers become more frustrated and frustrated as our syllabi turned into legal contracts because, seriously, if you didn't write it down students would claim they couldn't know it was expected (seriously, at some point I got students citing random webpages telling us we hadn't specified they couldn't). So on the student end we're getting students who feel entitled to an A because showing up and forming a thought (not even a coherent one) got them that in grade school. On the admin end, we get angry chairs and deans (who are being harried by entitled parents who seem to believe in the consumer model of education) penalizing teachers who don't make students happy.

Mike C. said...

Well what the hell does anyone expect when the only way one won't be relegated to near poverty wages is to get a college degree?

Anonymous said...

I suspect you also don't get called by current students or alumni because you are in HR--and they are not interested in being in HR. (Never mind the fact that someone who has been in HR and knows recruiting would be a VALUABLE resource in anyone's job search process). I'm in Career Services on the college/university level, and I have never been contacted by anyone at my alma mater for assistance in their career exploration, job search, or mentoring.

Anonymous said...

From the BNET comments, the thinking like rachaelmarquard is exactly the problem. Nowadays- to paraphrase, meeting expectations exceeds expectations. Ugh. There is generally not a road map to "superstar", that path (i.e. do A, B, C...) is to average (or average +.)

Long Time Admin said...

It's all connected to the dumbing down of America (although "dumb" means silent, and unfortunately, these whiny brats are not silent). I think of it as the "tube socking" of our culture - it's too time consuming for parents to teach their kids how to put on socks with knitted heels, so they get them tube socks instead. Don't want to teach your kids how to tie their shoes? Get them shoes with velcro closers!

Great! Problem solved!