Quiet Quitting


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“I remember you saying something about caring less when it came to work. At the time, it might have been during the pandemic, I understood it, but I don’t really remember the context of the point you were making. Fast forward to the new term, which we’ve been hearing quite a bit lately. The quiet quitting. That seems popular right now as a sales leader and Vice President for my company. This term annoys me, and I wonder if it’s healthy? People are caring less and therefore less likely to burn out, or are people simply lazy and riding the gravy train? Am I at 52 just too judgemental when I think these employees are lazy and getting the job done half asssed? I wonder what do you think? Do I need to change?”

That’s quite the question.

First of all, let me clarify what I meant. What you heard me talk about was an article I wrote for a magazine some years ago where the title was “Now That I Care Less, I’m Free to Care More.” And what it was about was helping people focus on the things that matter more, the things that if they cared about them more, would help them be personally and professionally successful. And what that requires is for us to care less about the things that do not help us achieve, do not help us build better relationships, do not help us contribute to society, do not help us work better at work. So it wasn’t “I couldn’t care less” like apathy or burnout, it was instead “reduce how much I care over here about things that really don’t positively impact the world, my work, my relationships, my family, so that I have more energy to care.”

Over here, you’ve heard us talk before about investing energy in the right place, so no I don’t think you’re some 52 year old judgemental person too wired to work hard. I am not a proponent of ‘care less about your job, you care too much about your job’. No, what I’m saying is there might be a gossip at work that annoys you, there might be somebody at work not doing their job that you have nothing to do with and you see them get away with it, and that really bothers you. You may see things happening in the world that you don’t like. And so you invest a lot of energy and you’re ranting and upset about it all the time. I don’t know what it is for you, but I’m guessing that you care about things that probably don’t have a real positive impact and that you can’t really do anything about. So care less about that so you can care more.

The quiet quitters are different – it’s not the great resignation anymore, because they don’t even have the energy to quit and leave. Quit and stay in. Yeah, that’s some lazy behaviour… You ever work with a person like that? They quit and stayed? I have, it’s not fun. Particularly if you’re carrying the log.

So, no, I don’t think you need to change your mindset, I think that you want to clarify what I said, which was getting people focused on the things that matter. And if they won’t focus on those things, what I encourage you to do is to say “hey, it doesn’t appear that you are really enjoying this and in it to win it.” And then you have to talk about what performance looks like, and it becomes a performance management issue, right? Becomes very, very different.

I htink people want to work hard. I don’t know, I probably know you, but I see you didn’t sign this question. So if so, you’re a workaholic. And if you’re taking calls at 10 or 11 at night and working on weekends and doing all that, you do need to back off of that a little or you will burn out. So caring less means focusing on things that matter that you can care about that have impact. But also if you’re teetering on being a workaholic, you need to kind of, you know, tap the brakes a little. That’s what I’m saying.

I hope that’s helpful, take care.

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