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Quiet Quitting – Don’t do it without a strategy!

Quiet quitting seems to be one of the latest buzz items doing the rounds currently however it has been there and in practice for some time. Before even attempting to add it to your thought process, it is worth noting 2 or 3 of your core values and where they fit into your career trajectory. Write these down or note them in your mind – you are going to need to surface these later in this article!

What is quiet quitting? Before attempting to explain, it is worth noting that it affects everyone – not just individual contributors, but also managers, and in some cases CEOs reporting to owners and the board of a company. It affects individual contributors mostly however and the behavior of managers sometimes limits any empathy that can be shown towards them.

Therefore, I strongly advise you to think of yourself as “number 1” foremost when anything around this topic comes up. You can support others however ultimately; you are the one that matters most. Just like the rules of flying, if you are in a plane with your colleagues and there is an emergency, and all the oxygen masks deploy – are you really going to help your manager put their mask on first, or are you going to put your mask on and then help them and others out?

Quiet quitting is when you do the job that you are hired to do – nothing more, nothing less and set boundaries. Likely for any job, you may be asked to do additional duties or help cover at times – this is mostly fine, and you are being a good teammate by doing this. This is built into many employment contracts “extra projects at the discretion of your manager”. In many cases though, it can go too far, and managers through reasons like lack of leadership skills, their unreasonable managers, and pure circumstance, cascade items on their direct teams and reports. This surfaces the managers’ unrealistic expectations rather than their employee's.

We have all at some point been in a position where we feel it is very unfair that we do more work than others and particularly – those other people get the promotion and opportunities and you do not get any additional recognition. Are you currently experiencing this? If you do not have a strategy around quiet quitting, it is on you to how you end up feeling about it. I know this may sound very harsh however sitting around and waiting for things to happen in your favor is a lottery. Your scratch card may give you 3 x prizes and you get promotions and recognition (verbally or monetary) however in most cases – you will end up tearing it up and throwing it in the trash and being unhappy as a result which can trickle down into other aspects of your life.

Back to your values - what are they? How do they fit in when considering quite quitting? Let’s look at an example - the value of loyalty. You may display this with family, friends, and colleagues at work. You have a great relationship (or may not be a great one however there is respect there) with your manager and they ask you to take on extra work. You are within your rights to push back, explain your high workload, and even play the corporate game of pushing back on extra items with made-up excuses (an entirely another topic that is toxic that can be discussed another time). Where will this get you? Think about this - where does it align with your values? You have loyalty towards your manager, they have looked after you and supported you and you are now not willing to help them out. The situation is likely not a result of anything they did. In a lot of cases, you are not being asked to do this work, you are being informed and have little choice however you can resign and work somewhere else, so you do have a choice. This is very black and white, however, is the reality of the situation. Ultimately though, it is up to you to strategize and work out a way to handle situations and determine what you need out of them if anything. These strategies are medium to long-term and unlikely to be short-term ones.

For a long time now, employers held all the cards in salaries and expectations around what you do. This has shifted recently for numerous reasons such as changes to the working environment due to the pandemic. Employers are now on the back foot however not for long! They are fighting back, and you need to deal with adding a barrier and rules around this. Relying on others and trends will not give you what you need. A strategy and frame of mind will, and you will feel in control on the inside.

Why the need to strategize? Some Managers are currently asking if they can discipline or fire the quiet quitters on their teams. They say that quiet quitters might be the first axed in layoffs which are all over the news currently. In most cases, the company circumstance is not down to the employees themselves however if you are one of these employees, you will get caught up in the crossfire. Some large tech companies already have policies in place to operate like this. It is an awful way to be and shows the true culture and values these companies have however no one is forcing you to work for them. There are lots of great companies out there that will value you and allow you to grow.

Another value is professionalism. You may be asked to take on any work and feel like you owe it to the company to do so. You work crazy hours every day, become worn out, and ultimately the quality of your work drops, and your well-being suffers. What happens then? How can you support your loved ones when not yourself anymore? A clear way to handle these requests is needed.

Back to the strategy, you need. I advise working with a confidant or a coach to determine how you want to handle circumstances at work. Below are some pointer questions:

  • Are you being paid your true value for what you do?

  • What is your medium to long-term goals? Promotion, earning more money, moving location, changing career, changing employer. List these and what you need to do to achieve them.

  • When you felt low after contributing more than you are being employed to do - why is this? Did you need more recognition or an award? Did you expect a promotion? What could you do differently to avoid this feeling in the future?

  • An example of something you can do is promote your work on instant channels such as Slack or teams and document the work you do and ensure it gets shared. You can also work with your manager on a promotion plan and the extra work assigned can be part of that.

In conclusion, if you do your job really well, you can be invisible, and most people are treated in that way. Of course, there are situations where employees are valued greatly and rewarded by their employers. It is likely that you may only receive feedback when you make a mistake or say no to extra work or get overloaded. A clear strategy to handle this work is needed and if you know what outcome you want - it is easier to determine what steps are needed to achieve these.


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