Quiet Quitting. It’s all the rage these days. The phrase originated on TikTok and referred to doing the bare minimum at your job while you look for a new one. It even has its own hashtag: #quietquitting.
As an executive coach, I’d like to say that I would never recommend that to anyone.
But, I’d be lying.
About 9 months ago a remarkable woman came to me for some career transition advice. Lisa was a senior-level professional currently serving in an interim role. A role that she hoped to make permanent.
As Lisa and I worked together over the next few months two things became obvious. One, she wasn’t going to be considered for the permanent position. And two, her employer was taking advantage of her stellar work ethic.
We didn’t come to this conclusion lightly. It was based on evidence and there was no denying it.
I told Lisa it was time to step back from 70 hours per week. To do her best while she was on duty, but to stop taking on all the additional responsibilities. At the time, the term #quietquitting didn’t exist. But, in this extreme case, that is exactly what I encouraged Lisa to do.
I didn’t advise Lisa to kick her feet up and to enjoy her social media scrolling while being paid like quiet quitting advocates. I encouraged Lisa to scale back from 70 hours to 40 hours.
Her mental and physical well-being were at stake, and there were a lot of things at play and we weighed each of them thoughtfully.
And that’s the number one thing people get wrong about quiet quitting.
Lisa’s case was extreme. In my career, I had never seen such an extreme situation. Which is why it was the only time I’d ever given that advice to anyone. In most situations, it’s not the right solution.
In my experience when a person is burned out in a position, it’s hard to get motivated. That’s often why they look for new opportunities. Sometimes it takes weeks, sometimes months. And either way, I know that it can feel like an eternity.
And it weighs on every aspect of our lives. It robs us of our joy. So, quiet quitting might feel like the right thing to do. Maybe you think that if you do less that you won’t feel the pressure.
That’s not going to serve you. You’ll likely still feel the pressure, stress, and maybe even anxiety. And, you may inadvertently do long-term damage to your career. Your co-workers, supervisors, and boss will take notice of the shift in your productivity and energy. Your mood will even shift as perhaps you start to feel more defiant, or perhaps ashamed of how little you’re supporting the team or contributing to the company. Burning bridges isn’t a good thing, is it? Quiet quitting isn’t taking an explosion, it’s a slow burn that does a lot of damage to your professional image in the community and amongst the company itself.
A better approach?
Stretch yourself. Remember, the last few months on a job are likely how you will be remembered by your colleagues and your supervisors. Even if you feel disengaged from your role, even if you’re actively looking for or have accepted a new one, this is your chance to leave on a high note.
It’s your chance to do more than expected. Maybe find an extra challenging project to take on, or step up and help co-workers out with projects and deadlines they’re struggling with. It will help you stay motivated and it will make the time it takes to find a new role feel less intimidating. It will also help you gain new confidence and skills, and it will enhance your professional brand.
Our professional world is small. People within industries talk to one another. When your name comes up you want that last memory, that top-of-mind awareness to be: “Oh, wow, she/he was an amazing worker. We were sorry to see her/him go.”
Unfortunately, #quietquitting will leave the opposite impression and memory. And like all things, it might come back to haunt you later.
My advice? Remember that a career is a long game with a lot of moving parts. Every job you have is important on that journey. Treat each one as a stepping stone to the next level and never assume people will forget. Because…they don’t.
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