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“The Quiet Quit” is More About Poor Leadership Than Unhappy Team Members



Recently, several social media outlets requested my opinion on the "The Quiet Quit" phenomenon that is hitting the workplace. Allow me to summarize for those who may not be familiar with the term.


One of the more popular explanations of quiet quitting is that the workforce is disengaged; therefore, they are not motivated to work beyond their hours and go and finish that one extra task.

As a leadership consultant, trainer, speaker, and author, I ask: Is it really that bad for a person to "just" do what is asked of them? Don't performance evaluations with built-in OKRs/KPIs already reward those that go the extra mile?


In my professional opinion, quiet quitting is usually less about an employee's willingness to work harder and more creatively, and more about a leader's ability to build relationships with their team members.


Many years ago, my leader asked why our department had so many complaints for the month. I noted, "We (supervisor, leads, and employees) all had been so busy, we were scrambling to keep our head above water. Many complaints could be traced back to not having enough time to train."


I fondly remember this leader, leaning forward in a leather chair and looking over the frame of his glasses, saying, "John, we will pay for training whether we intend to or not! If we don't find the time to train, we will pay the price through mistakes, errors, overages, shortages, downtime, terminations, resignations, and lost business relationships." I remember being in awe and thought this was profound.


He then asked me what the plan was to turn things around. I responded, "Personally, I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants." I suggested taking a leadership class to help inflate my tires would be great. He responded, "I will think about it." Later in life, I figured out that the response, "Let me think about it," is often code when a classy leader does not want to hurt your feelings by saying no to an employee's idea.


In my training classes, I emphasize that wisdom is your ability to apply your knowledge from the past. Today, I would have reacted differently if my leader said, "Let me think about it," to attending or purchasing a digital training class. I likely would have said,

  • "I'm doing a good job in my current role. Now is the perfect time to help me prepare for what's next."

  • "I'm ready to tackle the big changes with new thinking."

  • "I will make the most of my time while not focused on my 'regular' daily work."

  • "Leadership development is an investment in my future — and a way to help me stay engaged in my work today."

  • "Leadership development is shown to have both personal and organizational impact."

Finally, I would have asked, "Where did I not convince you of the importance of attending a leadership class?"


Build an engaged workforce that will go the extra mile!


Ready to Take the Next Step?

Learn more about our Graci Leadership Solutions digital courses Leadership for Leads and Fundamentals of Supervision. Leadership for Leads in Spanish is available too!

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