October 20, 2022


Media has been filled with stories about “quiet quitting”.

These stories often have a tone of indignation: what is wrong with workers today?

If you aren’t familiar, quiet quitting refers to workers who stop making any extra effort. I believe employers who think this is outrageous are misunderstanding something fundamental.

The job of employees is to do their job. It’s leaders’ and managers’ responsibility to clearly define what those jobs are. The controversy over quiet quitting is a classic example of focusing on the inputs (effort) instead of the outputs that actually matter.

As a business owner, I love go-getters. It is a critical trait for many positions in my team. Employees who will work hard, hustle, and deliver results deserve promotions and bonuses.

But this is never going to describe everybody.

Instead of wishing that employees would go above and beyond, leaders should focus on specifically defining what success looks like. Hold employees accountable for their responsibilities – if they don’t do what is needed, that is a problem. Employees who competently do what is asked of them are doing their jobs, and that is just fine for many roles.

Real value comes from focusing on what is important and executing, over time. Yes, it’s important to stay flexible and adapt to circumstances, but an organization’s overall goals and goalposts should not change often.

It’s easy to keep making new plans, chasing the next shiny thing, and adding tasks to workers’ to do lists. Keeping everybody busy, demanding extra effort, and starting new initiatives can give the appearance of adding value, but that is an illusion. These are management errors that are likely to lower productivity.

Confident business leaders will focus on developing a sound plan, with specific success criteria, and communicating it clearly to their team. With that in place, quiet quitting should not be the issue some are making it out to be.

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