If you’ve perused social media or news websites lately you’ve likely run across many new buzzwords used to describe the changing workplace environment. Lately, two labels are getting more discussion than all others combined—Quiet Quitting and Quiet Firing. Although the media represents these concepts as new, the practices they describe have been a pattern in organizations for a long time.
The term Quiet Quitting first proliferated on social media and describes an employee quietly doing the bare minimum to get the job done.
Quiet Firing refers to an employer or leader intentionally making working conditions so unfavorable that workers feel forced to leave. This practice is also referred to as “targeting” when the efforts are focused on a single employee.
Leadership Tip: One of our core principles for leaders is to always validate your assumptions. Has your employee “quietly quit?” Be sure to validate your assumption and never resort to “quiet firing.” On the contrary, it’s your responsibility to lean in, communicate with empathy, and find a resolution.
In both cases, these actions are symptomatic of an organizational culture that lacks trust. Employees may not trust management or vice versa. Instead of addressing internal issues directly, one party determines the relationship is beyond salvaging and therefore justifies a subtle but punitive solution.
These passive-aggressive actions perpetuate an “us versus them” mentality contrary to the collaborative needs of an organization and often fuel low morale. Although the parties involved in these quiet stand-offs believe them to be covert, colleagues are impacted and morale suffers.
If you’ve found yourself caught in one of these “quiet” cycles, here are a few tactical steps you can take to lean in.
- Document the issue(s) in advance—include details and dates.
- Set up a meeting to address the issue. Make an effort to humble yourself and strive to esteem the other person. (Pro tip: If the meeting must be held over a video call, request the meeting be recorded.)
- During the meeting, take a step back and seek to understand by clarifying job expectations.
- Document and distribute the solutions agreed upon during the meeting.
The best step you can take is to focus on building a culture that prioritizes people and collaboration above everything else. If you’re not in a position to affect comprehensive change, consider what you can control and model best practices in collaboration.