How to Deal with the Big Shot, Entitled Colleague

Career Management

you are not entitled to waste my time
When you work on a project with so-called experts, you might feel deflated when they rattle off their impressive lists of projects, clients, presentations and publications and you don’t feel like your achievements match up. They remind you that they’ve worked in the field for 10 more years than you and people in the industry know them. Now, a lot of the well-known pros are fantastic to work with and they’ll help you out if you ever have questions. But others show a sense of entitlement. They expect everyone to work around their schedules because they are soooo busy.

One of my worst experiences with an entitled colleague happened when a consultant who was new to the company, yet well-known and highly sought out for her specific expertise started on a project with me. She was the pro, and the expensive one, from what I understood. The people I worked for felt lucky to catch her with availability in between projects.

However, within a week, this so-called pro was not only no longer available to work on the project, there was not even a courtesy phone call or email to my company. We’d had to schedule our meetings around her schedule, assign deliverables accordingly, and then she just stopped showing up, and fully stopped responded. She was making some of the cardinal mistakes in contract work, being unaccountable and irresponsible. These are the types of mistakes that would get the rookie canned and ousted, so why does the big shot feel entitled to do it?

When these people show up, do you wonder any of the following?

  • Will I get overlooked because the big shot is here?
  • Will I seem desperate or unaccomplished because I’m willing to rearrange my schedule and be available?
  • Will I get stuck with the menial tasks while the favorable work goes to the pro?

Well, every experience is different, but I believe part of the reason I haven’t felt overlooked is because I am approachable and accountable. My advice is to work hard and if you don’t know as much as the “pro,” don’t let it stop you. Do some research, create a draft, do something to show that you’re willing to take initiative, manage your time, and learn. Be available (at reasonable times) for clients’ questions and meetings. You don’t have to clear your schedule entirely, but if you accept work on a project, you need to be able to do it. And no matter what your industry is or how important you or others think you are in your industry, it’s just bad form to act like your customer/client and co-workers are wasting your time when they’re just expecting you to commit to do your job. Without the customer or client, you have no work, no paycheck, no livelihood.

If you take advantage of the opportunities you have to learn new skills and be appreciated for being accountable, it’s really not hard to stand out against the entitled folks. Why? Because they sometimes forget how they got where they are. At some point, they also had to be accountable and responsible, able to handle multiple projects and tasks, and take initiative, without getting the benefit of the doubt. Remember that when you’re the big shot someday.

How about you? Any horror stories about working with entitled co-workers, bosses, students? I’m glad I work from home now. I can roll my eyes when the entitled people drone on during conference calls. 😉