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Empowerment vs Entitlement

Enabling job success and satisfaction is as much an art as it is a science. I routinely hear how frustrated or over stressed the work force is, or how dissatisfied employees are with where they work (or who they work for).

For young adults one of the challenges is integrating into a multi-generational workforce. Those older have perceptions, and you have yours, whether you work for them or they work for you.

One thing that arises is the perception of entitlement, which has negative connotations. However, as a somewhat accomplished young adult, you also need to function from a position of empowerment to advance and attain valuable experience.

Staying on my young adult theme, as a recent college graduate you merit credit for your achievement.

So, how much credit do you deserve, and does that match others perception? When those who have more experience believe you have not earned certain things, but young adults believe they deserve much more, the belief is the youngster has a (negative) entitlement attitude. As such, this creates a "you do not deserve all that" because you haven't "done" anything yet.

The tricky part - you have earned certain things due to your achievements.

Part of offsetting entitlement from empowerment in the workplace is understanding your role and function. Role is associated with your position, function is based on your responsibilities.

Those two really define what you deserve and what you are empowered to do. You clearly knowing them and, when necessary, communicating them to co-workers, helps you distinguish between entitlement and empowerment.

Empowerment is either given by leadership or taken by subordinates. Empowerment is ownership - with assumed authority to decide or execute based on support from your boss.

It leads to independence to perform in accordance with leader’s intent. As young adults it can be difficult to fully embrace this tenant and accept what comes with it (pressure/blame or credit and more responsibility). But this is ideally how you grow and advance.

I targeted “young adults” in this, but it also applies to older adults, including those who are new in leadership positions. As a leader and follower, recognizing both attributes will serve you and those you work with well, and may help alleviate some of the stress and frustration.

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