Beware the Workplace Princess


Section: HR Strange But True!



A recent survey revealed that 21% of workers say their organization has a "workplace queen," 18% say they have a "workplace king," and 34% say they have a "workplace joker." But when it comes to jobsite royalty, it is the "workplace princess" who rules, reportedly holding court in nearly half (48%) of all workplaces.

Conducted by Rachelle Canter, author of the executive career handbook Make the Right Career Move, the study contained a number of lighthearted questions.

Asked about the characteristics of workplace princesses, 48% of respondents say they expect special favors from their employers, 47% say they express the belief that they are being treated unfairly, and 35% say workplace princesses even make other people do their work for them.

And you don't have to be a woman to wear the workplace princess crown: One in six respondents (16%) say their workplace princess is a man.

A new book, Generation Me, suggests that the younger generation is the most narcissistic generation of all, raised by parents to see themselves as "special" and thus entitled, says Canter, president of RJC Associates, a San Francisco-based executive career counseling service.

While there have been narcissists long before there were Baby Boomers or GenMe, their numbers in the workplace seem to be growing, Canter says. Not only do they drive other people crazy, they frequently tend to ruin or derail their own careers. And they never quite figure out how they have sabotaged themselves, she says.

Could you be a workplace princess? Canter offers some warning signs:

  • Do most of your sentences begin with I want or I need?
  • Do you know the career goals of your friends and co-workers or only your own?
  • When was the last time you listened for 30 minutes to a good friend or colleague with a serious problem?
  • When was the last time you called or visited a colleague just to see how he or she is doing?
  • In job interviews, do you focus on what you want (a great opportunity, room for advancement, lucrative compensation, a mentor) rather than on what you can contribute to or offer an employer?
  • When things go wrong, do you blame the situation and other people?
  • Do you worry about other people or only yourself?

If you recognize yourself in the preceding list, don't despair-- there are habits you can cultivate to help return to us commoners. Canter suggests:

  • Think first of what you can contribute to others, not what they can do for you.
  • Volunteer to help a colleague who needs help with a project, a job search, or a problem. Ask for nothing in return.
  • When someone calls you for help, invest time in coming up with some help for him or her.
  • When recruiters or job-seekers call, spend time helping them with information and introductions, especially if there's nothing in it for you.
  • Notice others and thank them for their contributions.
  • Offer time to a charity or nonprofit that helps the needy - spend time that is inconvenient to you or cuts into your me time
  • Practice random acts of kindness.
  • Listen carefully to others in order to understand, not to respond--practice active listening by letting others know what you think you heard from them.

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