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Quiet Firing and its Twin, Quiet Quitting. Are Both Parties Ignoring Their Responsibility?

3 Mins read

Chicken or egg? Did ‘quiet quitting’ create a culture of ‘quiet firing’ or vice versa? It really does not matter because I believe eventually one will beget the other. This is a toxic trend that is best dispatched quickly, and not quietly.  I like win-win situations in life. I live to create them. This is a lose-lose if I ever saw one.

Why do people quietly quit in the first place? Often, it has to do with feeling undervalued or disengaged in their current role. Quiet quitting can also be a symptom of a poor attitude toward work. But again, why?

Through the lens of civility

We hear a common refrain these days that the world is becoming less and less civil. I agree but find that few people want to accept their part in the degradation of society. It always seems to be someone else’s job or fault.

When I wrote the book Civility Rules! I found that well beyond mere courtesy, civility comprises the following.

  • Trust
  • Respect
  • Honor
  • Dignity
  • Humility
  • Personal Responsibility

When I view the situation through the character that there is nothing civil at all about quiet firing or quiet quitting.

Quiet Quitting

Does the employee who shuffles through their day at minimum effort taking no initiative to go above and beyond, engender trust from their managers, and respect for themselves or their place of work or their teammates? Passing time until a better job comes along is not honorable, it is a waste of everyone’s time. Are the employees, the workplace, and the world made better by this behavior?

What is new here? Not much. We are dealing with a confluence of issues that feed into this outlook. Currently, the pressures are high to keep staff as there are far too few people applying for jobs. So, as a manager or business owner, we might feel we must put up with some uncivil behavior from the people who do show up.

So, what can we do to prevent quiet quitting in the workplace? First, it’s important to regularly check in with employees and ensure they feel valued and fulfilled in their roles without enabling bad behavior. Providing opportunities for growth and development can also help retain top talent. Clarity around expectations will weed out the truly uninspired.

Additionally, we can immediately address negative attitudes. Quiet quitting can be disruptive and costly for a company, so nipping these issues in the bud is crucial for a healthy and productive workplace. Of course, this can be done respectfully, allowing employees to keep their dignity.  Listening is a great skill to begin with and following up with open-ended questions will allow an employee to feel welcome to voice what might be happening in their heads.

Quiet quitting can do a number on office morale. Keeping communication open and addressing issues promptly helps to ensure an effective work environment.

A friend I discussed this subject with offered the following “I’d tell employees in the quiet quitting mode to stop the suffering and find the motivation and support to move to a new position that doesn’t erode their self-respect and their performance reviews. Ultimately, it’s a form of self-sabotage, is it not?”

Stoking the flames of Quiet Firing

But let’s not forget about Quiet Firing – as managers and owners, we must also be proactive in addressing poor attitudes and performance before they become problems. It’s about taking responsibility and creating a positive work culture for everyone.

Let’s not forget to lead by example and hold ourselves accountable as well. Our teams are counting on us! If we approach our work with humility, we can help our team members see our roles with more compassion as we are more human to them. Verbal bravado, tense tones, and passive-aggressive actions all eat away at our own trustworthiness and honor.

I vote for no more quiet firing OR quitting – let’s step up and take responsibility and make positive changes in the work environment. The power is in our hands.

Shelby Joy Scarbrough is the author of Civility Rules! Creating A Purposeful Practice Of Civility and Co-Founder of The Global School of Entrepreneurship, an accredited MBA program for entrepreneurs.

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