Lead With That: What “Quiet Quitting” Can Teach Leaders About the Importance of Communication & Development

Lead With That Podcast: What “Quiet Quitting” Can Teach Leadership About the Importance of Communication & Development

Hey, can you hear that? Probably not, because that’s the sound of quiet quitting.

You’ve likely heard of the phenomenon of “quiet quitting,” or what some are really just calling someone doing their job description. As quiet quitting gained in popularity, it highlighted what some managers have been doing for years — quiet firing. (Quiet firing is when an employer does the bare legal minimum to get rid of an employee. This can often involve reducing their hours or making them do undesirable tasks until they eventually quit.)  And now, we’ve got “quick quitting,” where people leave the organization within a year of joining, without doing the obligatory stick-it-out-for-2-years-and-don’t-move-too-much.

Whether it’s quietly doing just what your job demands of you, or getting to a job and realizing it’s not for you and leaving before the year is out, things are shifting in the American workforce. Like so many other things these days, it’s not just organizations and leadership that get to do the quick — and quiet — firing. 

When things like this rise to the surface, we stop and take a look. What are the implications for leaders and leadership for people quietly quitting? How can we stem the tide of quick quitting, or is that even something we should do? And maybe quiet firing is one of the many tools used to make people quietly and quickly leave an organization. And as always, what is your role as a leader in this space? So in this episode of Lead With That, we talk quiet quitting, quick quitting, quiet firing, and the implications for leadership.

Listen to the Podcast

In this episode Allison and Ren talk quiet quitting, quick quitting, and some of the spaces in between.

Interview Transcript:

INTRO:

Welcome back to CCL’s podcast, Lead With That, where we talk current events in pop culture to look at where leadership is happening and what’s happening with leadership. 

Ren:

Allison, can you hear that? Probably not, because that’s the sound of quiet quitting. And like us, you’ve likely heard of the phenomenon of “quiet quitting” or what some people are really just calling someone doing their job description. But as quiet quitting gained in popularity, it highlighted what some managers have been doing for years — or what’s also called “quiet firing.”

Now quiet firing is when an employer does the bare minimum to get rid of someone. Giving them a crappy job, working really bad hours, or reducing their hours, or making them do the worst task until they just quit. And now we’ve got “quick quitting,” where people leave the organization within a year of joining without doing the obligatory stick-it-out-for-2-years-and-don’t-move-too-much either.

Now whether it’s quietly doing just what your job demands of you, or getting to a job and realizing it’s not for you and leaving before the year is out, things are shifting in the American workforce. And like so many other things these days, it’s not just the organization and leadership that get to do the quick and quiet firing.

When things like this rise to the service, we stop and take a look. What are the implications for leaders in leadership for people quietly quitting? How can we stem the tide of quick quitting? Or is that even something we should do? And maybe quiet firing is one of the many tools used to make people quietly and quickly leave an organization. And as always, what’s your role as a leader in this space? So today we talk quiet, quitting, quick quitting, and some of the spaces in between.

Welcome back everyone. I’m Ren Washington, and as usual, I’m joined with Allison Barr. Allison, have you ever quietly quit a job before?

Allison:

I knew you were going to ask me that. I knew it. Have I ever quiet… Well, define “quietly quitting?”

Ren:

Well, I think yes, it bears defining. And again, I think some would argue and I would argue that quiet quitting is doing what your job description requires of you. And by that it means, if you’re hired to do a 9 to 5, you work a 9 to 5. If you’re asked to work extra hours, you ask for compensation. If you are required to do extracurriculars for work, then you are compensated appropriately. And so quiet quitting is this idea that the “quitting” — air quoting here, our favorite thing — the quitting is actually just not going, maybe what some might consider, above and beyond, at the expense of their own wellbeing.

Allison:

So that’s a tricky question because, have I done a job to within the bounds of what I was expected to do? Yes, with no intention of quitting, which I think is a misnomer. I don’t think people who air quote “quiet” quit are quitting.

Have I also gone above and beyond for jobs? Yes, of course I have. I think there’s part of me that understands organizational perspective, and that means that sometimes external forces cause some stressors on the organization, which mean we have to go above and beyond. And I’m okay with that. So I’ve definitely flexed.

Ren:

I think you’re right around quiet quitting is probably a misnomer, but what it speaks to is an interesting ethos that if people who have identified it as quitting, which is then really just people within the normal confines of their everyday life operating as they should not, like you said, “Hey, when things are down and the chips are down, it’s everyone all hands on deck.” But for me, it highlights this real experience of organizations have for many years I think been willing to take advantage of people’s contributions or their willingness to contribute by the hope of a promotion or more money.

Do you know your fellow TikToker Laura Whaley? Have you seen her stuff?

Allison:

Yes, of course.

Ren:

Okay.

Allison:

I don’t know her, but I absolutely follow her, yes.

Ren:

Okay. Yeah. Well, I mean, I don’t know, there’s got to be like creator conventions. You should ping her. You guys should get together because Laura, and if you haven’t seen her out there world, Laura Whaley, she does a great example of, I think she articulates what this quiet quitting is really about, which is: People recognizing that organization’s leadership often demand much more from someone than they’re willing to be reciprocal about.

And so I think you’re right. The quitting isn’t such the case, but it’s more around, wow, is that what people are perceiving? Hey, you need to work extra. Guess what? Someone quit. You’re rolling into all of their projects.

That’s one of my favorite TikToks of hers. Like, “Hey, so-and-so left the organization, so we’re giving you her projects.” And she goes, “Great. I’m excited about what this means for my promotion.” And then the person goes, “Promotion? No, no, no, you’re just going to work more hours for the same job and without any extra explanation.” And it’s just kind of like, whoa.

And I think maybe that’s what we’re talking about, that organizations have been willing to do that for a long time, and people are now kind of “quitting” that.

Allison:

Yes. And demanding transparency and demanding honest communication. What it comes down to, I mean, it’s one thing to say, “Susie Q quit. Guess what? You’re going to take on her biggest client. Congratulations!” Right?

Okay, I might be happy to do that. I might be motivated to do that, but let’s have a real conversation about it: What are you going to take off my plate? Here’s what it looks like for me. What are the demands of that project? Let me look at my schedule. Let me look at my workload. We’ll look at it together and see if there are things that need to shift in order for me to do that.

So there’s also something that comes up for me too, which is a shift, a generational shift in, air quoting again, “loyalty,” being loyal to your job.

I’ll drop one of my favorite TikTokers who is Attorney Ryan. Attorney Ryan. And he talks about this a lot, is your company’s not loyal to you. They’ll fire you tomorrow if they decide to. Why do you need to be loyal? And what does that mean, even?

Loyalty doesn’t mean that you accept harsh treatment and manipulation, right? Loyalty doesn’t mean you stay in a job when it’s toxic, which can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But where did that come from? Why do I have to be loyal to a job and what does that mean? So I think generations are looking at loyalty a little bit different and that’s okay. I think that’s okay.

Ren:

Yeah. I think we’re bound by our lexicon a bit because loyalty, I can already imagine. Think about the way that someone might sound bite this, “Allison Bar is against loyalty,” right?

Allison:

Yeah.

Ren:

“Gen Z loyalty.” Because I think we’re reduced by maybe this old perspective of time invested is a demonstration of that. And I think what you’re really highlighting again, and one of the things Laura does in one of her TikToks, because we’re on a first name basis, Laura and I, one of the things that she was highlighting just then was she was mimicking an opening for a safety meeting. And someone was talking about mental wellbeing and then there was this, they kind of entered their phraseology around or their whole quote, that “Remember you’re replaceable at work, but not within your family.”

And I think again, that echoes this thing around the quiet quitting that people are starting to be willing to say that I recognize more than ever that I’m in this thing for the long haul. And in an environment where you recognize that too, we’re all going to win together. And so I think maybe it requires a redefining of this idea of loyalty where maybe it’s people are demanding reciprocity more than they ever have.

Allison:

And I think to me there’s a difference between loyalty and commitment. I’m fully committed to my job. I love my job. I think a human being can be fully committed to their work. And I mean, this is semantics. I don’t even know how much this really matters. But not being loyal to a company doesn’t mean that you’re not committed to your work. If someone wants to quit after a year, they should be able to, I think, right?

So I’m moving into quick quitting now, which is another topic, but I don’t know who decided that we have to stay at jobs for 2 years? Who decided that? There are people who can grow well outside of their role professionally in a year. There are people who can. So why should we make them stay in a role if they’ve grown into a new space?

Ren:

Well, I mean, we’re here. We might as well talk about it. Though I do want to say some more about the, is quiet quitting warranted? But I think you…. Who said you had to stay longer? I would say probably an old traditional frame of loyalty. Probably a real experience of why would you quit a job that you yet aren’t fully inculcated into?

I mean if you can’t learn the job in 12 months, that might just be because the job can’t be learned in 12 months. So I could make the case for the reason to keep one. I mean I know when I was coming up it was this recognition that you wanted to seem like you were reliable, but maybe that’s what you’re talking about. It’s just this kind of old, maybe past its time point of view of someone’s length or tenure is indicative of someone’s capability or commitment to the work they’re doing.

Allison:

Yeah, it’s so interesting. It’s just our favorite thing to say. It just depends. It all depends, right? I worked for a company, this is well before CCL, where a peer of mine quit before the 12 months, before a year, and took a new job. And a few years later reapplied to the company in which she was essentially blacklisted because she quit within a year, which is silly. She left and gained new experiences and more skillsets, and they said, “No. We don’t like that she quit within a year.”

And that, to me, is a problem. And really you shoot yourself in the foot too. This was someone who’s widely talented and really would’ve been an addition to the organization. So I think we take a lot of things personally at the workplace when we don’t have to.

Sometimes people quit for personal reasons. Sometimes people quit because they can’t get along with their manager. Sometimes it is personal, but a lot of times it’s not. And I think if we can adopt a broader perspective on people are trying to take care of themselves and that’s why they leave jobs, then it becomes a little bit more simple.

Ren:

I love the idea of, how do we make it simple? And I can’t help but think about something that I’ve mentioned before, this service-first mentality, and what if I as an organization or as a leader said, “My job is to prepare you for your next job?” What would that do for someone’s feeling of loyalty or experience, where they’re here and I’m not worried about leaving my organization, but instead I’m worried about staying for the kind of organization that’s equipping me to leave.

Why would I want to leave a place that’s utterly and totally invested in my development? Because I leave places because they’re not invested in that, because they don’t care about me, and then I’m gone in a year. But maybe someone’s well committed into that and saying, “Well, now I don’t want to go.”

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

And it’s interesting if you could create that kind of leadership or what that looks like really for anyone out there to cooperate in the confines of whatever structures they’re giving to say, “I work for you.”

Allison:

Yeah. I mean, you make me think of succession planning, companies that adopt succession planning would look like. I’m going to teach those people I manage everything that I can possibly teach them so that they’re prepared for the next role, because that empowers me as the leader to then be prepared for the next role for me. So it’s a win-win for everyone. And then we have highly talented and skilled employees at the workplace. And how could that be a bad thing?

I think ultimately too, it can come down to people’s values in a way, right? I read some LinkedIn stats that stated, let’s see here, people are moving on so that they can build a better networks and develop skills. So that’s something that you just alluded to. People want to develop skills faster. And as a general trend, people are not able to do that right now. And quick quitting can offer more money and a faster accelerated career growth. And so, if you’re in a position in your life where money is a driver, that’s your prerogative. And you can make double what you’re making doing the same job somewhere else? I can’t fault that.

Ren:

And I’ve worked at organizations where they’ve looked me be dead in the eye and say, “Ren, you’ve got to leave before you can make more money here.”

Allison:

Yeah.

Ren:

And so it’s almost like we’re condemning people for doing the thing that they’ve been told to do.

Allison:

And that’s what I mean. I think if an organization and its leadership can really assume that people are doing what they need to do for themselves, it’s not personal. And I think at the part of the root of this is an avoidance of having hard conversations, or a manager not creating a space to have those hard conversations. If I was managing a team, I would want to know. I would want to know from somebody. I would want you to tell me, “Ren, like, Hey, my values aren’t being met here. I need a flexible workplace because of whatever, whatever. What I need to be successful here is X, Y, Z.”

And I might not be able to provide that for you, but at least there’s an opportunity. I think a lot of people quit before there’s a conversation to be had that could change things. This is not for everyone of course, some people truly don’t like their jobs and want to leave, but there are people who do like their jobs and don’t ask for what they need and quit when maybe they didn’t have to.

Ren:

I’m so glad you went there because something I want to talk about in the context of all this word quitting is this idea of agency, this idea of personal responsibility. And this is a great way to maybe slide backwards to this idea of the quiet quitting.

I can’t help but think what’s someone’s responsibility to let someone know their manager or the organization that, Hey, by the way, I’m going to do what you’re required of me because of X, Y and Z, because I’ve been feeling like I’ve been exploited, because I feel like my discretionary effort shouldn’t be going to X, Y, or Z, because I feel like you’re not invested in my future? So why should I invest overly in yours? What do you think? Does responsibility lie on the quiet quitter to maybe stem the own tide of quiet quitting?

Allison:

It depends. I’m sorry to say it depends. So I’ve heard quiet quitting reframed as boundaries at the workplace.

Ren:

Sure.

Allison:

So if we are reframing it as that, then one would naturally in theory communicate their boundary. So yes-

Ren:

You’d hope so.

Allison:

… in theory, right? Otherwise it’s not a boundary, it’s passive-aggressive behavior. In theory.

I know this is nuanced, so I want to acknowledge that. But if I have a boundary where I simply cannot take another piece of paper workload, I simply cannot do it, or I don’t want to work outside of the bounds of what I was hired to do, in theory, then I would have a conversation and say, I’m not able to take that on right now for X, Y, Z reasons.

Ren:

You would hope so. But Laura — here I’m giving you huge plugs. Follow her. She has funny stuff.

Allison:

She’s funny, yeah.

Ren:

Also I think because she’s funny, she might be doing things for effect because I could look at some of her behavior as the point of the employee and some of the stuff seems really passive-aggressive, like the commentary around she’ll respond to management’s claim that there’s more roles for you with like, “Oh, I didn’t get that memo from HR.” And she’s like, “What memo?” “That promotions are based off of working extra hours or this over-commitment, as opposed to performance,” or something like that. And I could totally understand you’d be righteously able to say that and be like, “I’m going to get them.”

And then she always hold up this mug, which I believe has a very inappropriate word on it, which is also very funny. But I think to myself maybe before I kind of passive-aggressively say, “Oh, I didn’t see that I was getting a raise,” I’d let someone know actively that if quiet quitting is indeed boundary-setting, then I have to let people know what boundaries they’re crossing. So there’s got to be some real personal accountability for the employee in that space.

Allison:

Yeah, I agree. And I will replug Laura, because she’s hilarious.

Ren:

Yeah, she does good work for sure.

Allison:

Most of her account, as I understand it, is humor. I don’t suspect she’s insinuating that you would say that. Maybe she is. I don’t know. But it’s mostly humor. But you’re right. And it’s complicated, because there are workplaces that punish direct conversation, truly punish it. There are workplaces where managers and leaders abuse their position as well. So it’s really complicated.

So quiet quitting, I would prefer to call it boundary-setting, I think is okay. I think it’s okay. However, what’s missing for me in all of the articles that I read and what I see on social media is exactly what you just said, is having those quote/unquote “brave conversations” to establish norms.

Ren:

And so here I am. I’m a manager now. My employee doesn’t really give me a sense of the boundaries that I am or am not crossing. From all I can tell from a distance they’re willing to do the bare minimum, and that’s about it. And so I ask you then, Allison, as my fellow manager in this organization, is quiet firing okay? Is it okay for me to look at that underperformer and be like, “Well fine, I’m going to play this game of chicken with you and here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to reduce your hours. I’m going to keep on giving you less and less responsibility. So if you want to sit here and drag your feet, then I’m going to make it hard for you.” Is that okay?

Allison:

Talk about passive-aggressive, right?

Ren:

Ah, okay, yeah.

Allison:

Well first I want to talk about what does bare minimum mean? What does that mean?

Ren:

In the context of quiet quitting, I guess, it would be someone who is interpreting someone’s, as we do, lack of effort or this quiet quitting doing the bare minimum, which is to say just their job description.

Allison:

Yeah, I only highlight that so that our listeners can think about this too. Is that bare minimum at the workplace that’s not a phrase that I love, right?

Ren:

Yeah. Isn’t that interesting?

Allison:

It’s like when you get hired, it’s a transaction. It is. I hate to depersonalize it that much, but it is. It’s, “Ren, here’s some things I want you to do. It’s on this list here and I will pay you this amount of money to do these things that are on this list.”

Ren:

Right.

Allison:

Sometimes on that list it will say “other job duties as assigned”. Sometimes it says that, right? But it’s a transaction. And so if you’re doing these things on the list, then I owe you the money and that’s that. So-

Ren:

Office Space.

Allison:

Go ahead.

Ren:

You’ve seen it I’m sure. (I’m doing your favorite thing!)

Allison:

Yes.

Ren:

So you just made me realize, I mean, I’m having a revelation, everybody, with Allison right now, because of her. It’s like that moment where, It’s the flair. You work at wherever this restaurant is, you have to have your flair, and she’s getting harangued by her manager and it’s like, Do you want to do the bare minimum, or you want to be like my guy over here who’s got 72 pieces of flair?

And it’s really interesting just that I had been using the phraseology bare minimum, but I don’t know where it came from. And then if you were to even look at the contract, so if the bare minimum is doing what you hired me to do, then aren’t I doing what you hired me to do? And so maybe, “bare minimum,” it speaks to this larger conversation of The house has the thing in their favor.

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

I mean, we call it “quiet quitting” when someone’s doing what they were hired to do. We call it “the bare minimum” when someone is hired to do what they and they’re doing what they’re hired to do. I mean, wow, it’s interesting. What do I even mean by bare minimum? Yeah, you’re just so right on. That’s just really, really heavy.

Allison:

And sometimes people will equate bare minimum with bad attitude, which I also question. What does that mean? And so this will keep bringing me back to having conversations, feedback conversations. Here’s what I noticed. Behavioral conversations.

Ren, if you and I were working at the office together and you noticed there was some trash on the ground and you’re like, Allison will do that, and you had behaviors like that, I would of course have those conversations with you. But I’m not going to gate keep work from you. I’m not going to quietly punish you without you knowing why. And I’m not going to try to quote/unquote “coach” you out or wean you out. Because why would I do that? It makes it harder on me in the long run. It’s passive-aggressive behavior that doesn’t have to happen. And that’s when a company gets a bad reputation too, by the way.

Ren:

Yeah, I think generally quiet firing is a worst practice.

Allison:

Yes.

Ren:

And I think quiet quitting is probably unfortunately being lumped in with the quiet firing. Because again, we’re talking about quiet quitting, which is really a misnomer.

Allison:

It is.

Ren:

Quiet quitting is people staying on the radar because they’re doing what they’re hired to do and they’re not going to burn themselves out at the expense of themselves for the organization. Whereas quiet firing is kind of “sus” behavior that’s, I don’t want to pay you unemployment, so I’m going to make you quit.

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

And instead of having a real conversation of Why aren’t you identifying with the work that you’re doing? What do you care about? And so I think I agree, quiet firing is, well maybe, I don’t know if it’s warranted, but I do, I can understand an environment where someone might be curious about not having the ability to have a conversation around How do I get more of your discretionary effort into the game?

Allison:

Right. Yeah. And I think if there’s… It’s so interesting. If you were doing the bare minimum, excuse me, if you were doing what was required of you, what we agreed upon, if you were doing it and you were doing it well, I don’t see a reason to have a conversation with you unless something happens as it does within the organization or external forces drive a reduction or things happen. Then I’m going to have a conversation with you and say, “Ren, thank you for everything that you’re doing. We’ve had some changes and I might not be able to give you all the details, but we had some changes, workloads have shifted. I’m wondering if you’d be able and willing to take on this project.” And it’s-

Ren:

And I think… Yeah, go ahead.

Allison:

I was just going to say and it’s a conversation then.

Ren:

And to the end of that conversation, I think if you’re the employee or being told that or the employee being told that it’s fair to say, “Great. How long? What does extended compensation look like?” whatever that looks like for you. Because I think that’s the moral of this story here, I think for us.

And I think too for the one thing in Laura’s videos that she’s not doing is having an active conversation around, “Hey, this is a real disappointment and it’s not sustainable. And if you want to keep on hiring more versions of me who you’re just going to keep on rotating the door, then it’s not going to work.” And so I think really that’s where we’re probably heading. And so then I wonder too, okay, well quick quitting is that so bad?

Allison:

Yeah, I mean I don’t think it is. If we’re just big picture here looking at an organization, people get fired. People have things come up all the time. People get put on performance improvement plans. People go on maternity leave or parental leave. People have to use FMLA. These things happen all the time. Organizations are required to be flexible and adaptive. So why would we punish someone for quitting? I don’t see why we would do that.

I would rather want to look at why they left and if there was anything that we could do to prevent that from happening in the future. Are there any themes? Is this happening a lot? Is it under one manager? Is it because of one project? What is happening? And diagnose that, rather than punish the person, even if it is a quiet punishment where you blacklist them from the company or blast them on LinkedIn.

Ren:

Yeah, which is just another worst practice. Yeah, again, I think for me, for quick quitting there has to be a symbiosis. I think you address quick quitting by letting someone know that you’re invested in their future, whether or not that future is with you. And some might listen to this and balk at the idea, but realistically, if you’re willing to fire someone or let go of someone anyway, then you’re doing that. You’re just not being a good place to work.

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

I don’t know, I fell like I’ve heard so many people tell me, “I always wanted to come back to this organization after I left.” And in many organizations and the reason was because XYZ or they always said, “Hey man, you got to do you. Come on back though if you do, and we’ll all be better for it.” And it’s those places when they leave, they don’t go, “Geez, don’t go work for those people,” but “Hey, go work for those people because even if you’re out in a year, they’re going to really equip you better than anyone else has, and they’re not going to have any bad feelings about it.”

And so quick quitting I think is an interesting idea that I can understand the pain points in investing time, money, and effort in someone who, 11 months later, says, Thanks for all the help, all the wisdom, all the time, and investment, leaving you in the lurch. But maybe we’ve got to think about really the organizational systems that we have where part of, I think the quiet quitting or quick quitting reminds me of, I think of what you said, what Dr….Dr. Ross, who is it? No, lawyer. Lawyer Ron?

Allison:

Well, he goes by the labor lawyer on TikTok. Attorney Ryan.

Ren:

Labor lawyer, yes. Attorney Ryan. Man, attorney Ryan, I’m really sorry, bro. Obviously I don’t follow you on TikTok.

But I think it’s this just weird tension of if something happened to you or me, CCL might bat an eye, but they rotate someone onto the client work and the client would not be like, “Okay, we’ll reschedule.” They would say, “No, we need to deliver this.”

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

And so the idea that we are replaceable, yet we index on individuals. It wouldn’t be necessarily sustainable. You talked about succession. If you or I did take a licking or got a promotion or won the lotto or got hit by a bus, my least favorite option of those, the organization maybe wouldn’t have a seamless transition. They would feel pain. And so maybe we have to shift that idea to not then like, “Hey, you’re replaceable, Ren, but also you’re indispensable.” Well, that seems a weird position for both of us to be in.

Allison:

It is and it’s also not, I think. I mean, I can think of a position I was in a few years ago where somebody retired, so it was like, Hey, we need to quote/unquote “unload” all of this client work, which for me, and it was a lot. That’s a lot. And the conversation was like, “Hey, so-and-so’s retiring. Are you willing to take on this client work?” It’s the same.

I think organizations flex all the time. If you got sick — I won’t use you as an example.

Ren:

Thank you.

Allison:

If Susan got sick-

Ren:

Oh, sorry, Susan.

Allison:

… and was out for… She’s not planning on that, right? And she’s out for 2 months on FMLA or something, we would flex as an organization. So I don’t understand what feels like an entitlement to a person from the organization. I don’t understand that.

Ren:

I think it’d be a matter of redundancies. How early did those conversations in your scenario happen around retirement?

Allison:

Actually they were pretty close to the date for reasons I won’t get into, but there were legitimate reasons for that. Dates changed. Things happened. So it was-

Ren:

But would you say that’s a best practice?

Allison:

No, but it happens.

Ren:

Yeah.

Allison:

And it happens.

Ren:

Right, I think it does. And I think here’s the thing that we do. I think there’s loads of people out there in the world who will buckle up and say, “It’s ready. It’s happening. We’re happening. Get on deck.” I think typically what this whole conversation is about is that organizations are always like, “Hey, buckle up. Get on deck. Everyone’s here. Do more with less. Sorry, no promotions coming. Sorry, work extra. If you don’t work extra, you’re doing the bare minimum, even though I never told you your job is expanding.”

And so I could hear the worry about entitlement, but more around, there’s not many organizations who are making an active plan about how to prepare for your inevitable removal from the role. And so I wonder then too, if we think about the quick quitting, maybe quit quitting, wouldn’t be such a pain in the ass if organizations were committed to long-term knowledge-sharing and succession planning.

Allison:

Yeah, I agree with you.

Ren:

Whereas you always had bench strength, right? And you’d probably only be able to do that if your organizational ethos was, We’re invested in you, while betting that you may not be here in 11 months. Now that might be a hard organization to operate. I don’t know what that looks like, but…

Allison:

Well, and I think you need to make that assumption, frankly. I mean, not from a place of fear necessarily, but things happen all the time. Again, it’s that agile… For me, it’s that agile mindset. Things happen all the time. My boss could be out unexpectedly. Then what, right? Then what’s going to happen? Someone’s going to have to take on his workload. We’re going to have to figure it out. It’s an HR nightmare, because then it turns into, how quickly you can hire someone? And hiring is a slow process for a lot of reasons.

It’s just having that agile mindset and organizational perspective is so important. I think it exists on a spectrum too. There’s taken advantage of and abusing your employees, not paying them, making them come in on a Friday till midnight there. There’s abuse and unrealistic expectations that are consistent. And then there is, “We have this unforeseen circumstance. So-and-so is actually retiring on Monday. I know that’s 3 days from now, but we absolutely have to disperse this workload. I’m sorry to be asking you all to do this. Are you willing to work with me? Again, we’ll do it together. We can talk about what things we can shift around.” That’s different.

Ren:

And made so much more palatable if in that same conversation I was about to say, “And look, I know that we have 6 more retirements coming, and you know that we’ve got Allison ready to take up the load there. Ren is already poised for this succession planning.” And then it’d be great if the organization were to say, “Look, this is a once-in-a-lifetime affair.”

I think what’s really happening is so-and-so retired. Like, oh crap. And so-and-so got fired. Oh gosh. So-and-so quit. We’re like, Whoa. Wait, who’s doing this work? “You are now, buddy.”

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

“No.” And so I think that’s probably the big concern. So you and I, think we agree. Because again, I’m a big fan of working hard and working together and making it work. And I think probably historically the onus has been on the employee and less on what the organization is willing to do to mitigate that.

I think I love CCL for so many reasons, but I was listening to our CEO talk the other day and he said, this reflection, “We get to control how busy our people are.” It’s such an interesting reflection of this idea that we’re the ones who set the metrics in place that require people to be doing X, Y, or Z. And I use “we” as leadership — big, big picture now, not talking CCL. And so it’s interesting to say, “Well, you’ve got to buckle up everyone, and it’s going to be a tough 18 months.” And everyone’s looking around. “Okay, why?” “Well, because we said so.”

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

“Oh, okay.”

Allison:

Right. Right. I mean, if we look back to 2020 when, let’s say if my memory serves me in March, April, May, 2020 was really hard for a lot of organizations. Really, really hard. And the conversations that I remember having with clients and internally at CCL were, We’re all in this together. We’re all going to figure this out together. It might be what we called a sprint. I don’t know if you remember that, Ren. We were doing sprints where were-

Ren:

Oh yes, many sprints.

Allison:

…. effortlessly, really just trying to transition some of our work. And it did take the whole company. It very, very literally did take all of us.

But the way it was addressed and messaged was very different. Is sort of like how you just mentioned, right? We’re all going to make this push together. It will be a couple of months, we hope. And the opposite of that would be, “Hey, Ren, you’re going to transition all of these accounts to virtual and I’m not going to support you. And you got to figure it out yourself. And it needs to be done by Friday. And I know that you’re facilitating Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so good luck.”

Ren:

Yeah, I thought that there was a lot that went well there and there was this, “We all need to get on board.” And there too, I think probably was a, And we recognize that had we done some earlier groundwork, we maybe wouldn’t be in this position. And sometimes too, change and really drastic change, I think, mandates shifts that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened.

And so I don’t know what’s going to shift the trend for quiet quitting or quiet or quick quitting. But I think one thing that I really came to, and maybe 2 things for me, one, I’ll start with just that idea of, wow, what an interesting paradigm, where I’m so used to saying the bare minimum. And really if I unpack that equation, I mean, what you were hired to do? Because the bare minimum isn’t doing less than what you were hired to do.

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

So I wonder what that looks like. That’s an interesting perspective. And then I think moreover, I’m really encouraged by the responsibility of both parties. If you’re thinking to yourself, Dude, I’m just going to do what I’m paid to do, because your organization’s been taking advantage of me. It’s on your shoulder to tell somebody that’s what you are doing.

Allison:

Right.

Ren:

And as an organization, you’ve got to be asking people, “Hey, we want more discretionary effort from you. How do we get it? And is that even a fair ask?” So those are things that I think are really, really sticking out for me. If you’re quietly quitting, maybe tell somebody. And if you see someone and you’re like, “Are they quietly quitting?” maybe ask them what you’re hoping for.

Allison:

Yeah. And I find myself constantly reframing that. Are you setting really hard boundaries where you weren’t before? And that’s okay. And that’s okay. But I as a manager would want to say like, “Ren, what’s going on in your world?” And not being afraid to have those conversations.

What comes up for me is in a post-COVI area, era rather, most employees are looking for balance. They’re looking for flexibility. They’re looking for development opportunities. And sometimes, often they’re also looking for pay that matches that, their skills and experience. And if you are a manager or leader who’s listening, control what you can control.

You might not be able to control the pay that they’re requesting. However, is there a way for you to offer more balance, more flexibility? Is there a way for you to offer development opportunities? One simple way you can ensure you’re developing the skillsets in others is to simply teach one person something new every day. I had a manager who did that. No matter how small it is, no matter how small it might seem to you, it’s not small to others. It’s not small to those people who want to be growing and developing new skills.

Ren:

And maybe that kind of behavior is also the thing that might either facilitate less quick quitting because I’m investing in your development, giving you one trick a day. And then you’re thinking to yourself, well geez, why would I leave here?

Allison:

Exactly.

Ren:

So I love it.

Allison:

Exactly.

Ren:

Love it.

Allison:

Yep. And I think the only other thing that comes up is having that organizational perspective. That can be really important. It’s one thing that I learned quickly at CCL. One of the first programs I ever facilitated was, of course, our Leadership Development Program, otherwise known as LDP.

Ren:

Check it out.

Allison:

It’s been around for a very long time. And it really just helped me to understand uncertainty. It helped me to understand having those tough conversations that can be really hard too really… Well, we think it can be hard to have, but once you learn the skillsets, it’s a lot easier. And you’ll notice that your employees will really, really, not only grow from it, but probably have a lot more respect for the organization as well.

Ren:

Absolutely.

Allison:

Well, thanks for the conversation, Ren. And as always, a very big thank you to our production team behind the scenes. So Emily and Ryan, you’re both appreciated. Thanks for your hard work.

Ren:

Thank you. Thank you.

Allison:

And to our listeners, you can find our show notes and links to all of our podcasts on ccl.org. Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn. Let us know what you’d like us to talk about. If you want some humor, you can follow Laura Whaley on TikTok, or you can follow Attorney Ryan, not for humor, but for some work tips.

Ren:

And if I wanted to follow someone to learn about leadership stuff, who can I to do that on TikTok?

Allison:

You can follow me on TikTok. I love TikTok. Yes, find me on TikTok too, if you choose.

Ren:

Yes, that’s right. We’re slowly doing it. She’s going to promo herself soon, I promise.

Allison:

One of these days. Thanks again, Ren. We’ll look forward to chatting next time.

Ren:

Thanks Allison. Thanks everybody. See you next time.

 

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