Audio version 6’30” or listen on Spotify
Are You Too Entitled?
A new strain of Karen Syndrome has emerged, striking down men and women alike. And the tragedy of entitlement is that you don’t have the self-awareness to know you’ve got it.
Here’s a simple test to see if you’re entitled, and if you’re a general burden to society in these times.
Q. Do you see COVID queues, or are they invisible to you?
Is your answer:
A. Yes, I see them.
Good. Thank you.
Or is it:
A. No, often I don’t.
If that’s you: you are entitled and need to lift your game. I’ve seen this a lot lately.
Mister Business-Class-Check-In Goes To The Markets
There’s a Saturday farmer’s market across the road from me. It’s just re-opened, but with a wire-mesh fence and a single entry point, where friendly market staff count visitors in and out. At any given time there’s a queue of about fifty, responsibly spaced, a friendly communal vibe.
We get to the front of the queue. A man whose dress sense screams Golf Club Treasurer walks straight past the entire queue, the signs and the security team as if none of it was there.
“Excuse me,” I say. “There’s a queue.”
He looks at me in a confused fashion, surveys his surroundings for a moment, then continues heading in.
“MATE. MATE!* Did you not hear me?”
Seriously what sort of awareness bypass do some people have?
Finally one of the council people intervenes and sends him to the back of the queue. I see this sort of thing at least a couple of times a week. The 1.5 metre ‘stand back’ rule offers the perfect gap for the entitled to just head on in.
It’s not so much premeditated malice. It’s more like complete obliviousness to their surroundings, and zero awareness of anyone’s needs but their own.
The COVID Karens
Of course, it’s mainly middle-aged white guys, with a lifetime’s experience of getting their own way**. Not always, I had a cafe face-off last week with a pair of activewear Karens, who were pretty huffy at my pulling them up.
I’d been there ten minutes already.
I tell them there’s a queue.
“Oh is there?” in a questioning tone as if I was just making up the whole situation to be difficult.
Some people have no peripheral vision at all. All they can see is what’s right in front of them, so people standing 1.5 metres back from whatever Karen wants are just invisible.
Which brings us to: what’s the male Karen?
Urban Dictionary has some thoughts.
Time for me to go and live alone in a bush hut for a few years, with only the possums for friends.
I think this is karmic revenge for my previous use of ‘Gary from admin’, which drew heavy flak from the guys-with-1970s-footballer-names demographic.
Are they unfair stereotypes? Personally, I’ve had more entitlement from Janines and Todds but hey, I’m not the manager of the memes, take your complaints elsewhere.
Karens and Ians In Your Business
Now is not a great time to be employing people who operate in their own Bubble Of Me.
When they’re customers, Karens and Ians Would Like To Speak To The Manager.
Inside your business, they would like to have their own way as they have been accustomed to their entire life. Plus constant recognition from you, the manager.
They would like you to know that they’re doing a great job.
They’re sending you an email half an hour before everyone else starts work, on a subject of no importance, just for the time stamp.
They love the blind cc, a great tool for building a paranoid, siloed operation where everyone feels like they’re being white-anted.
They ‘just thought you should know’ about what other people are up to.
They believe staff morale is high and customers love them, because they’re as blind to communication subtleties as they are to store queues. That’s all peripheral vision stuff.
Most Of Your People Aren’t Entitled
Businesses are a balancing act between a majority who just want to do a good job without going on and on about it, and those who just want to claim credit for everything.
That first group won’t call it out, because their nature is to avoid conflict. Which leaves the career advancement highway clear for Karen and Ian.
If you don’t recognise the quiet ones who are doing the right thing, you build a self-sustaining vortex of entitlement.
Good managers have the reverse of Karenvision. They see the subtle details that others don’t. How the people at the back of the room reacted when you announced that new plan. How your frontline staff feel about their supervisors. What customers are really saying when they say they want faster this or cheaper that.
When you’re looking for leaders inside your business, right now you want people who are looking out for everyone around them.
Managers who understand that staff are doing it tough at the moment, who know how to create moral support and a sense of community.
These are times where ‘bringing the whole team along with you’ skills work much better than ‘being the pushiest and making everyone submit to your will’ skills.
If you believe you’re better than everyone else … you’re worse than everyone else.
Time to send your Karens and Ians to the back of the queue.
* Note for international readers, the word mate has about 300 different meanings depending on vocal tone and context. In this case the first one is “lift your listening skills”, the second is “what the fuck are you doing you oblivious dickhead”
** Yes I am aware I am a middle-aged white guy
If you liked this why not read Stop Saying How Busy You Are.
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