Employees Quiet Quitting - Who’s to Blame?

authentic leadership buy-in earning leadership employee engagement employee experience employee satisfaction employees quiet quitting ethical influence influence leadership leadership culture performance results what is quiet quitting Oct 04, 2022
Employees quiet quitting

There’s certainly a lot of hype around it currently, but I maintain that quiet quitting is no new issue - even though I’ve never seen anyone seem to care the least bit about it until just recently! With hopes that you’re tracking with me on the importance of EARNING engagement from the 50% of team members who tend to be neither actively engaged or actively disengaged - the ones now being accused of quietly quitting - we need to come to terms with the fact that the Howard Jones song from the 80s just isn’t the case here… Someone needs to accept the blame, or at least the responsibility for righting the ship and getting those oars into the water!

As I dug into this quiet quitting idea to begin putting some thoughts together, I found an article from the Harvard Business Review that was very pointed in really was to blame, contrary to what Mr. Jones may have suggested… The article opened like this:

“Every employee, every workday, makes a decision: Are they only willing to do the minimum work necessary to keep their job? Or are they willing to put more of their energy and effort into their work?”

Remember the statistic I shared previously about increased discretionary effort and how that impacted individual productivity? I’ve seen far too many supervisors and managers over the years pounding their fists on their desks as they raised all kinds of cane about those team members who just weren’t doing as much as they were capable of. To that end, I’ve seen more than a few managers and business owners make that same kind of fuss about their supervisors…

If I’ve shared this once, I’ve shared it a thousand times: people don’t shy away from things because of difficulty or low pay. I have a lifelong friend whose entire career, beginning as a volunteer and riding his bicycle to the fire station at age 14, has been focused on helping others while putting himself in harm's way. Individuals in all walks of life dedicate themselves to the things they’re bought into. And if our team members aren’t buying in at a level where they’re willing to expend that discretionary effort, is it really their fault?

I remember a conversation from nearly a decade ago like it was yesterday… My boss, the facility human resource manager with fancy credentials and an MBA framed proudly on the wall behind his desk, was on a tirade about some of the supervisors he and I were working with not doing some basic things that were expected of them. On the credenza just below his framed MBA and fancy credential, were two books by John Maxwell that I had loaned him but he just hadn’t had the time to crack open. After he droned on for a while, I interrupted to share something I had read from John in each of those books, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I went on to state that he was in a role that required leadership and therefore the very things he was whining about were his fault. I won’t pretend like that galvanized our friendship; he actually wasn’t all that fond of my comment… But that didn’t mean I was wrong!

As I’ve studied this quiet quitting thing, I’ve found more than a few references to “quiet firing” as well. That’s an even bigger crock of crap, and it ties right back to folks in supervisory and management roles refusing to accept the responsibility of authentically leading their teams.

Moving forward here, we’ll work through some things that are all too commonly blamed for those folks choosing to quietly quit and what a leader can do to earn their buy-in. Then we’ll get specific about how we can even tailor our approach to each individual team member! Stay tuned…