By Mark Carey
We are now awash in articles about quiet quitting and there are no solutions being offered to abate the problem. I wrote an article On September 13, 2022 entitled The Causes of Quiet Quitting and a Radical Solution. In the article I placed the blame on employers based on decades of poor management practices that were out of synch with the vast majority of workers. In this article, I will offer a few simple yet concise considerations to aid managers to help all employees, not just quiet quitters. The reasoning behind these solutions will be self-evident.
Managers are now experiencing an existential work conflict, from outside social media to within the front lines of their subordinates. Managers wonder whether quiet quitting is even real, how to fire the alleged slackers, how to manage and motivate current employees, and how to manage the situation for the betterment of the company. I write to all current managers and say I have your back and now provide solutions below. As managers, you enforce the policies and procedures handed down from the high castle — the C Suite. Yet, you are powerless to effect real change. I say this because the executive management team really controls the shots when it comes to culture and work life within the organization. Managers will need to work up the chain of command to gain authorization about implementing change strategies to keep employees engaged, which is nearly impossible in many medium to large corporations.
Avoid Toxic Work Environments
The most common complaint I hear from employees is about managers who raise their voices and even yell at employees during work meetings. No one likes to be yelled at period. In my opinion, yelling is merely the exhibition of a poorly performing manager who reverts to the idiocy of screaming at employees to make them conform.
Other forms of toxicity can range from overworking employees beyond reason, failing to pay overtime due to illegal wage classification – exempt/nonexempt, discrimination and retaliation, employee favoritism/fiefdoms, and too many lengthy meetings that go nowhere.
Managers who wish to be effective leaders must listen more and demand less. The Drucker Institute/Korn Ferry report found that the most effective managers are those who exhibited the following characteristics and competencies: Tolerance of ambiguity, Trust, Curiosity, Risk-Taking, Adaptability, Global Perspective, Manages Ambiguity, Interpersonal Savvy, Collaborates, Instills Trust. I encourage you to read the article in the WSJ where this information was reported and ask yourself if you currently exhibit these traits and competencies. It is obvious that the pandemic and after effect has caused many managers in the top corporations to eagerly heed the issues, concerns, and desires of employees. The theory exposed is as follows. If you have some or all the traits and competencies, then your company will be highly successful, and your employees will be highly engaged.
Communicate with employees in a transparent manner as if you were speaking to your own family member or spouse. Good family relationships require open and honest communication. You should assess your communication style as a manager and see if you can listen more to what employees have to say to help them. Rewards are always given to managers who listen, and penalties assessed to those who do not.
I recently found the following article from the Harvard Business Review fascinating, it is entitled The Transparency Trap. The gist of the article is this, “Here’s the paradox: For all that transparency does to drive out wasteful practices and promote collaboration and shared learning, too much of it can trigger distortions of fact and counterproductive inhibitions. Unrehearsed, experimental behaviors sometimes cease altogether. Wide-open workspaces and copious real-time data on how individuals spend their time can leave employees feeling exposed and vulnerable. Being observed changes their conduct. They start going to great lengths to keep what they’re doing under wraps, even if they have nothing bad to hide. If executives pick up on signs of covert activity, they instinctively start to monitor employee behavior even more intensely. And that just aggravates the problem.”
Avoid the Dictator Mentality
Many managers ascend to the throne without any training about how to become a good and effective manager. Managers just somehow learn the skills by trial and error and more error. That’s fine, as all successful entrepreneurs learn by their mistakes. But many managers never learn how to be effective leaders because the executive team never spends the time and resources to develop the relevant traits and competencies discussed in the Drucker Institute/Korn Ferry report. So, avoid the dictator mentality; you know who I am referring to and we all have had coworkers who fall into this lot. No one likes a dictator because dictators do not spend the time and energy to listen- they just bark orders, hide behind their insane narcistic egos and so on. Dictators also brown nose up to the executive management team and run cover to protect themselves- all the while harming the company by ruining the work culture around them.
Think About Doing Less Than More
Managers may want to consider reevaluating how much work they are expecting employees to complete and providing less work. On September 25, 2022, the Wall Street Journal reported “Why Bosses Should Ask Employees to Do Less–Not More“. “It isn’t that addition is inherently bad. But when leaders are undisciplined about piling on staff, gizmos, software, meetings, rules, training and management fads, organizations become too complicated, their people get overwhelmed and exhausted, and their resources are spread too thin that all their work suffers. For so many companies, the opposite –less, less, less– is the key to success. Subtraction clears our minds and gives us time to focus on what really counts. It sets the stage for creative work, giving us the space to fail, fret, discuss, argue about and experiment with seemingly crazy ideas– the ideas that can transform a company, and make employees happier and more productive… The idea is that by eliminating things that are unnecessarily burdensome, such as filling out expense reports, meetings that are too long, and all that other stuff that saps too much time and emotional energy, it leaves more time and will to do things that are time-consuming and frustrating–the stuff that innovation emerges from.”
If you would like more information about this topic or would like to speak with one of our employment attorneys, please contact Carey & Associates, P.C. at email@example.com or call 203-255-4150.