‘Quiet quitting’ has been a buzzword in the corporate world recently – staff members are taking back their personal lives by setting boundaries on how much extra effort they put into their work. This has sparked many conversations as to why employees felt the need to quietly quit in the first place, and one such reason may be due to the rise of ‘quiet firing’.
The second phrase to be logged in the ‘quiet –’ saga, quiet firing shifts the focus to a managerial perspective, and refers to those leaders who are assigning some members of staff menial tasks, setting unrealistic expectations, and consistently denying them time off work. Essentially, instead of communicating with these employees to help them improve, they are quietly pushing them away until they finally decide to leave of their own accord.
While some leaders may be doing this consciously, this new phenomenon does bring into question whether managers who are being inattentive are at risk of unknowingly quietly firing their staff.
Being in a leadership role means you may not have a lot of time to spare, but a crucial part of being a manager is finding a balance between being attentive to those above and below you. Members of your team may feel they are being neglected due to a lack of direct engagement with them, and this can be perceived as quiet firing and can push people towards leaving. This is reinforced by Gallup’s report which found that 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. In other words, a manager has the largest effect on how engaged their employees are at work.
This highlights the importance of finding that time to offer clear and consistent feedback. Leaders who are essentially giving up on those workers who they deem as underperforming, instead of taking the time to tell them how to improve, are failing their staff.
Underperformance is a sign to managers that they are not being as attentive as necessary. The relationship between leader and worker needs to be nourished, and this nourishment comes from communication – through the implementation of a regular feedback session – and from clarity, as only about half of workers actually know what is expected of them.
Communication and clarity are especially important with the rise of hybrid and remote working models. Research shows that employees working from home often receive less performance feedback for their good work than those in the office, and this can be simply due to the fact that remote working removes the chance of bumping into one another. Gone are the days of grabbing someone for a quick chat or catching up by the water cooler. All these little opportunities for micro-feedback sessions are much harder to achieve through Zoom or Teams, as now, a formal effort has to be made to speak to colleagues.
Implementing ways of giving regular feedback to employees who work remotely will help mitigate the risk of quietly firing staff. On top of this, it helps enhance your culture – in the office and digitally – to be open and approachable, which can ultimately better staff engagement and improve the quality and quantity of their output.