Part 1 of a Two-Part Series
Originating in a viral TikTok video, the term “quiet quitting” describes a worker who doesn’t go above and beyond their assigned job description. In other words, these are workers that only do the bare minimum to keep their jobs. It is said to be a result of people reassessing their priorities and considering that there’s more to life than work and career.
If you think the notion of quiet quitting is some newly discovered phenomenon brought about by the worldwide pandemic, you likely fall into one of two camps:
- You possess little real-world business experience;
- You have the experience to know better, but, you want to appear “hip and cool,” so you’re willing to compromise your integrity by shoehorning the term into your daily parlance and sharing every silly post on the topic on your social media feeds.
Either way, it’s time to wake up!
Quiet Quitting Is Not A New Concept
There’s nothing new in the idea that some percentage of workers are satisfied in performing their jobs to a minimally acceptable level – nothing more, and only less, if they think that they can get away it.
To attribute it to some sort of epiphany brought about by the pandemic is complete and utter BS.
Let’s face it; worker productivity has always been easily plotted on a Bell Curve. There are some workers on the front-end of the curve. They are the true “eager beavers” among us. They want to make a difference. They’ll volunteer to be on special projects and are willing to do extra work to make themselves and their organizations better.
In the bloated middle of the curve sits the vast majority of people. They are willing to do their jobs to the best of their ability and might occasionally work a little extra to get an important job done on-time and on-budget. These staffers are by no means over-achieving, but, their work ethic is not going to allow them to shirk their responsibilities, either.
It is the back-end of the curve where the underachievers can be found.
These folks would rather hide under their virtual desks to avoid being spotted by their supervisors for fear of being asked to do something more than the barely satisfactory output that they already deliver.
For these employees, their work is just a job, something that you do to make enough money to live on. It’s not a career measured in pay raises, promotions, and increased job responsibilities.
We Need To Stop Making Quiet Quitting Cool
May I suggest that celebrating “quiet quitting” is tantamount to reveling in under-achievement. Indeed, it is a dangerous and slippery slope. And, I ask my fellow leadership experts – the ones that should know better – to knock it off pronto!
We have an entire generation of professionals entering the workforce who don’t know any better (remember, the term caught fire from a TikTok video). If we let them think that under-performance is an acceptable way to go about their work, we just might end up with an entire generation of professionals that under-perform.
Instead, let’s offer some solid advice to these up-and-coming staffers.
Here are three ideas to start with:
- Work your butt off! If you do your best the rest will fall into place. You will learn a lot, while establishing a reputation as a professional worthy of investing in and promoting.
- Don’t be so quick to seek a fully-remote work setting. If your job housed in Dover, Delaware can be done remotely from your Lake Tahoe studio apartment, it can be done just as well in Pune, India. There are already major consulting companies offering services that intend to help US business leaders to make the transition!
- Don’t expect a trophy just because you showed up. I know mom and dad think you’re wonderful. But, they may be the only ones!
Sure, you have to show-up and do your job – those are table stakes. To really thrive and flourish in your career requires you to, firstly, be willing to do what others are not willing to do and, secondly, have the patience for that extra effort to be rewarded.
It’s not healthy to expect that to happen overnight. It won’t and you may become disenchanted when it doesn’t.
As mentioned, this list is intended to get us started. I encourage you to add your own best thinking to the list.
While “quiet quitting” appears to be this month’s clickbait, it’s not a new idea. Nor is it some outgrowth of the pandemic. However, it may be hazardous to continue to celebrate it, as we seem to be doing. It just might lead to continued under-performance here in the US and the moving of jobs to people in other parts of the world that are hungry for success and possess the ambition to do whatever it takes to achieve it.