The Managerial Entitlement Complex

It’s popular for managers to bitch about how millennials have an entitlement complex. It’s always easy to pick on someone smaller and younger than you, isn’t it?

I’ll tell you who has the entitlement complex. Any manager that feels entitled to someone else’s personal time has an entitlement complex.

Any manager who expects a response from an employee at any time of night has an entitlement complex. Any manager who expects someone to get back to them at 4pm on a Sunday has an entitlement complex. Any manager who thinks someone’s life comes second to their work has an entitlement complex.

Paying someone a salary doesn’t mean you own them. It means they work for you. During work. Work is not always, work is sometimes. If a manager thinks work is always or whenever they want it to be, they have an entitlement complex.

As as owner, as an employer, as a manager, I don’t feel entitled to anyone’s nights or weekends. That’s their time. I’m an asshole if I think it’s mine. I’ve done nothing to deserve a right to that time. Treating people well at work is what I’m supposed to do — it doesn’t buy me more of their time whenever I want it.

Can I send someone a message through Basecamp at 9pm on a Thursday because that’s when I’m free to do it? Sure. But if I expect a response any time before the next morning, then I’m a shitty manager.

Are there exceptions? Occasionally, yes. True emergencies or crisis are also exempt, of course, but those should happen once or twice a year, if that. And if they’re happening more frequently, there’s an even deeper problem with the company, the culture, and the quality. More hours ain’t gonna fix that.

At Basecamp we believe 40 hours is enough. We’re not perfect, but we try our best. There’s next to nothing that needs to be handled at 9pm that can’t be handled at 9am the next morning. When things seem to require more time, we try to find out what we should do less of, not what we should do more of.