Quiet quitting is a relatively new term in the workplace. It occurs when an employee who has lost all interest and motivation in their work, decides to not actually quit, but stay in the job and do the absolute minimum, while still receiving a pay cheque. This has become a real problem for employers because, with many people now working from home in the wake of COVID, quiet quitting is easier to get away with. This lack of employee engagement is detrimental to healthy team dynamics and productivity, damages morale, and impacts the bottom line.  So, why do employees quietly quit, and what can managers do to prevent it?

Here are some of the key causes of quiet quitting:

1. The employee does not understand their impact on the business

Not every employee has a clear understanding of how their role contributes to the overall success of the company. Employees in junior positions, and employees in very large organizations, are particularly vulnerable to feeling that what they do does not matter much in the scheme of things. Every employee makes a contribution and every employee who does their job diligently should feel valued.

Action: Managers can help their team members connect the dots between their specific job responsibilities and business success. You can do this casually during day-to-day contact, and more formally during performance reviews. Positive feedback when merited can go a long way to preventing quiet quitting, so do not assume your employee knows they are doing a good job and is valued.

2. No clear career path seems to exist

Nothing crushes motivation more than a sense of futility. If an employee with ambition comes to realize there is no hope of advancement they may feel let down and resentful, particularly if organizational changes they cannot control have impacted a once-promising career path.

Action: Engage your team members in conversations about their career objectives and explore how you can facilitate their access to training and development opportunities. If advancement in their current field of expertise does not seem possible, would they consider a move into another area of the business to broaden their knowledge base? A bright and committed employee is worth keeping.

3. Their salary has become uncompetitive

Money talks, and so do employees, especially millennials, who are more open to discussing with colleagues this once super-confidential aspect of their employment, their pay.  It is hard not to make comparisons and feel offended if, for example, a new hire doing the same or similar work is earning significantly more than someone in the job for years.

Action: Where possible, ensure your team members’ pay remains competitive. Not everyone will ask for a raise but may feel hugely resentful if they do not get one. If a raise is not possible, ensure employees fully understand all of their benefits and what this can mean in monetary terms, for example, dollars saved on health and dental costs, and employee dollar-matching savings programs.  Salary is a major driver of employee motivation, but not all employees understand the value of a strong benefits package.

4. The employee is suffering from burnout

A big mistake is to assume that all those who quietly quit are inherently selfish or lazy. There are many reasons for quiet quitting and being a striver who has become exhausted, is one of them.

Action: Employers need to adjust their expectations. Post COVID,  employees are less willing to do many hours of unpaid overtime and cope with enduring stress. Where possible, offer employees flexible working arrangements and hours.  Work towards enabling employees to recoup in their free time and not be bothered by emails and work that can wait until the next business day. Ask your team how you can together make the working environment better while still meeting goals. Senior leadership, with the help of Human Resources/Employee Communications, should set the tone for the company in this regard and be fully involved.

5. There are mismatched communication styles between employee and manager

People have different needs and wants when it comes to communication. Could it be your team member is at risk of checking out due to a lack of feedback from you? Do they feel unvalued or unheard? Conversely, perhaps you are micro-managing someone who simply does not need it and they are finding the situation untenable.

Action: If you sense you are not fully connecting with your team member, meet with them to discuss communication style and how they like to be communicated with. Accommodate their preferences as far as you reasonably can.

6. They don’t have a very good boss!

This is hard to accept, but could the problem be you? Tell-tale signs are high turn-over and disengagement in your team. While there may be other reasons for this, one of the considerations has to be that their manager is unaware of their impact on people.

Action: Take a good look at how you relate to your team members. Ask individuals for honest feedback with no risk of reprisal and be prepared to accept it. Participate in 360º leadership development surveys.  Seek out training and development opportunities that strengthen your leadership competencies. Consider executive coaching to help you identify areas for improvement and build on your strengths.

Quiet quitting may not be only a modern-day phenomenon, but with remote working, it can be much more difficult to prevent and treat.  Follow these tips to mitigate quiet quitting within your team. If you’d like to explore coaching in this area, connect with us at Forge at  905 703 0003.

  1. Have you ever been in a work situation where you wanted to speak up but held back?  Perhaps you were in a meeting where you kept your great idea to yourself.  Perhaps it was when your boss announced a decision you felt would be a mistake.  Perhaps you discovered an unsafe or unethical practice frequently performed by colleagues with more years on the job than you.  Most of us have experienced these types of situations, and the reason for our silence is fear.

Why Psychological Safety is Important

In her TEDx Talk, Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor, and author discusses psychological safety and how its absence can cause a lack of voice among employees or “workplace silence”.  Her research has shown that if we don’t feel psychologically safe, we might not speak up — and that can be very bad for business.

So, what is psychological safety?  As Prof. Edmondson explains, even though we may not go to work each day in a state of fear, we may find ourselves in situations that threaten us.  The good news is that since childhood, we have been practicing how to protect ourselves in risky situations.  We have learned that if we don’t want to look ignorant, we shouldn’t ask questions.  If we don’t want to look incompetent, we shouldn’t admit a weakness or a mistake.  If we don’t want to appear intrusive, we shouldn’t offer ideas.  If we don’t want to look negative, we shouldn’t criticize the status quo.  However,  silence has a steep price; it costs the organization new ideas, innovation, learning, growth, a healthy and supportive culture,  and it can even impact physical safety.

How to Create Psychological Safety

We can all contribute towards creating a culture of psychological safety, but leaders must be the example.  Prof. Edmondson  sets out three simple ways this can be done:

  1. Frame the work being done as a learning exercise. As we cannot know the future, solving a problem through some degree of trial and error is to be expected. Positioning it this way helps create psychological safety because it tells employees they won’t be punished for failure because failure is simply part of the process.
  2. Acknowledge your fallibility, not just to your peers, but to your subordinates, too. This communicates that you and the organization accept that each employee, including their superiors, are all just human, and that humans don’t always get everything right.
  3. Model curiosity. Ask questions and encourage others to do the same; not just for clarification, but to elicit constructive criticism, new ideas, and new ways of doing things. Question-asking should be the norm and no-one should be afraid to ask one.

A workplace with psychological safety can free employees to be their full selves and contribute to the best of their ability. This can be hugely beneficial for the organization and even give it a competitive edge. In personal relationships, feeling psychologically safe can help foster honesty, trust, better communication,  and a closer, more satisfying relationship.

For more about psychological safety read  Amy C. Edmondson’s book The Fearless Organization  — Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth.  To arrange an appointment to discuss how you can create a more psychologically safe place for your team, or if you are feeling psychologically unsafe at work and need coaching, connect with us at (905) 703-0003.

Most of us have some degree of prejudice or negative notions about individuals or groups we consider a certain “type”. It’s not something we like to admit, but it is an aspect of being human.  We are wired to mistrust or even fear what we don’t know or understand. Yet, being the subject of a stereotype or discriminated against can be very harmful to the impacted individual and society as a whole. So, it’s up to each of us to make an effort to get better informed of the facts.

What if there were a way to make the world a kinder, better place just by listening? What if we could have a sit-down with someone we’ve never met before but who represents a “type” we hold poor assumptions about?  What if we could hear their story; their lived experience?  Would we be surprised?  Would we feel compassion? Would we feel they are more like us than we thought? Would our fear and judgment give way to understanding and acceptance?

In Denmark in 2000, The Human Library Organization (HLO) was conceived by a group of two brothers and their colleagues to put these questions to the test. It set out to see if opinions would change if taboo topics were openly discussed, without condemnation, by those directly experienced in the matter. Created as a project for the Roskilde Festival in Copenhagen, the HLO was a raging success, and the potential for it to benefit other communities could not be ignored.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Since then, HLO, a non-profit organization, has enabled members of the public to borrow a person — or “human book” —  for 30 minutes to hear their life story.  Just like a book, each story-teller has a title, for example, “Unemployed”, “Refugee”,  “Bipolar”,  “Muslim”, “Recovering Alcoholic” and “Homeless”.  All of the HLO’s “human books” are volunteers. They give their time freely to foster a greater understanding of their lifestyle, circumstances, religion, illness,  or some other aspect of themselves that they are an expert on and which may be negatively viewed by others. This is a dialogue, not a presentation. Difficult questions are expected, appreciated, and answered.

Today, the HLO is active in more than 80 countries on six continents. Not only does it conduct “human book” borrowing sessions, but it has also formed partnerships with several of the world’s major brands to help them with their inclusion and diversity efforts.

To find out more about the HLO visit https://humanlibrary.org and learn how to become a “human book” and how to borrow a “human book” for a potentially life-changing chat through your nearest Human Library.

At Forge Coaching & Consulting, we help individuals and organizations increase their cultural emotional intelligence (EQ).  We offer workshops that help to improve cultural sensitivity and empathy in the workplace. For more information call us at 905 873 8393.

Stepping into the role of manager for the first time can be a little daunting. It’s natural to feel a bit anxious but, remember, you were promoted because others have faith in you. You earned this job! Here are a few tips to help you make a successful transition into this next phase of your career.

Meet with your direct reports individually as soon as possible

It’s important to sit down privately with each individual as soon as you can. This is a discovery meeting for both of you, but also a chance to start forming a connection. What are their skills and interests and how well do they align with the company’s vision and goals? What is their communication style? What are their aspirations? Are there any issues you should be aware of? Use this initial conversation to convey your general expectations and how you will support them in their role and development.

Foster effective communication

Effective communication starts with sharing your vision, plan and timelines. For individuals to be fully engaged they must understand the company’s objectives and how they contribute to them. Lead by example with respectful and clear communication. Invite debate to explore different perspectives. Once a decision is reached, which does not always mean consensus, ensure that every team member is clear on their deliverables. Leave no room for ambiguity in your instructions and respectfully hold people accountable for their contributions.

Nurture your emotional intelligence (EQ)

Emotional intelligence is often referred to as a soft skill and its impact is underestimated. Experience has proven that EQ is more important than hard skills. Good managers with high EQ are self-aware, able to empathize, and can control their emotions and composure even under pressure. Increasingly, organizations are realizing the value and competitive advantage of hiring and advancing emotionally intelligent leaders. To develop this skill, keep a close eye on your emotions. Become mindful of how you express them, both verbally and non-verbally. Practice delaying your reaction for a few seconds. Commit to being a respectful leader at all times as this will help you remain accountable to others.

Prepare yourself for tough decisions about hiring and letting go

Leadership takes courage and sometimes difficult changes must be made. Start with ensuring you have the right person in the right seat. Once the team has identified its knowledge gap, they will likely understand why people are let go or redeployed, or why new recruits join the team. Often, people select to opt-out of a role when they see it change in a direction that does not work for them. Empathizing with your team members and supporting them during that transition is crucial. You can be a courageous and kind leader.

Manage Your Time

As a new manager, your mind may be spinning with the volume of work and competing priorities. Good time management skills are linked to clear priorities and effective delegation. Start discerning where you are truly needed and can add the most value and make that your focus. Create strategies for keeping on track. For example, set aside blocks of time each day to check email and have a meeting-free day each week for heads-down work on key deliverables.

Ask for Feedback

Learn to ask for feedback. Encouraging your team to give you feedback will set a tone for direct, candid, and respectful conversations. Be prepared to really listen to their thoughts. The same goes for your superiors. No matter how self-aware we are, we cannot experience ourselves as others do, so feedback is essential to fully understand how we are perceived. Accept the feedback graciously and design a specific development plan so that you continuously hone your leadership abilities.

Ask for Help When Needed

There’s no shame in asking for help, whether it’s approaching your boss, a colleague, or HR. We all need help occasionally, and it’s far better to seek help than allow an issue to deteriorate or an opportunity to be missed.

Importantly, when you embark on your new role, don’t let moments of self-doubt inhibit your performance. Take the steps needed to start out right with your team and set a positive tone. Learn all you can about how to manage well, and consider seeking the input of a professional coach to help you really shine. Remember, like you, every great leader of the business world, was a first-time manager once!

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