Episode 86: Quiet Quitting is About Managers, Not Employees

The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Podcast

Published: September 6, 2022


Quiet quitting is a new name for behavior that has long existed. Today the term is mainly applied to individuals who reject the idea that work should be a central focus of their life. They resist the expectation of giving their all or putting in extra hours. They say “No” to requests to go beyond what they think should be expected of a person in their position.

Every employee, every workday, makes a decision. Are they only willing to do the minimum work necessary to keep their job, or are they willing to put 100% of their energy and effort into their work? But as we searched our database to study these quiet quitters within organizations, we found something different at play. In this podcast episode, we’re discussing how quiet quitting is about managers, not employees.

Key Points

  • Our data indicates that quiet quitting is usually less about an employee’s willingness to work harder and more creatively and more about a manager’s ability to build a relationship with their employees where they are not counting the minutes until quitting time.
  • Those managers who were rated at the 1st– 10thpercentile on balancing results with relationships had 14% of their direct reports
  • “Quietly Quitting,” and only 20% were willing to give extra effort.
  • As managers increased their effectiveness at balancing results with relationships to the 90th– 100thpercentile, 62% of their direct reports were willing to give extra effort, while only 3% were “Quietly Quitting.”
  • People want careers, not jobs. Organizations today assume that most employees seek to be treated as if they are career colleagues. In turn, the organizations assume people will act with the organization’s best interest in mind and put forth their best effort.
  • Analyzing data from over 113,000 leaders, we looked to find the top behavior that would help a leader demonstrate that they were effective at balancing getting results with their concern for team members. The number one behavior that helped was trust.
  • Is the quiet quitting movement the beginning of a revolution that changes the way we work,  an expression of exhaustion at the end of working excessively hard, or is it merely a passing fad that will quickly die?

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Quiet Quitting is About Bad Bosses, Not Bad Employees– Harvard Business Review Article by Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman