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Quiet Quitting – Mainstreaming Mediocrity In Organizations

Say goodbye to the overachiever and a last farewell to the ambitious career climber.  During the pandemic, while we were all self-isolating, the terrible employee engagement percentage numbers of people disengaged in their work rose from 34% disengaged to 36%.

Mediocrity is now in and has gone mainstream. The new trend is Quiet Quitting. It’s stealth non-working while pretending to work. 

But if Quiet Quitting were out in the open it would go something like this.
You’re sitting with the interview team who may want to hire you.  Then comes the inevitable question, “How will you handle the job?”

“I have no intention of giving my best,” you respond.  “I want to make that perfectly clear. Did you think I would work that hard at the salary you’re willing to pay me?   What I promise you is I will do the minimum that I can give and get by. I have my own life to live, you know. I’m not going to give that extreme conversation you gave your kid to give them advice on where to go to college. You can’t expect me to show up early at the hotel on a Saturday to set up for one of those teambuilding exercises.”

Your chances would be nil to none of getting hired with that kind of honesty, but if you got hired and didn’t tell them what you’re not going to do, you would be joining millions on Tic Tok, becoming part of the Quietly Quitting movement, the fine art of giving as little as possible at work and getting by with it.

Quiet Quitting is defended by experts in the field drawing boundaries around work and life. They’ll quickly state it’s only advocated for those who aren’t interested in getting ahead. If you’re trying to launch a career, you really should charge harder.  Quiet Quitting is for the contented mediocres who work when required and hide when they can. 

To be quite frank, the Quit Quitter reminds me of My Fair Lady’s Alfred P. Doolittle, Eliza Doolittle’s work-averse father who sang and danced his his way through these words:

“The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
So he could do his job and never shirk
The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
But, with a little bit of luck, with a little bit of luck
Someone else will do the blinkin’ work.”

We believe that what you do to create, maintain, and improve the world you live is part of the meaning of life. If others before us hadn’t done that we’d be gnawing on a bone by a fire in the cave wondering where we could pick the next berries.

Here are the reasons that Quit Quitting is just plain wrong.    

  1. Using Deception to Get Hired.  A person who takes a job with no intention of giving their best is fundamentally dishonest. What’s worse, they are dashing the hopes and dreams of the people who have a vision to serve through new products and services that will be of the highest quality and make the lives of people easier and more successful.  You are coming on as the rock who wrecks the machine.
  2. A Drag on the Team.  While you’re giving the minimum, others are picking up the slack for you. Projects are in mid-stream and deadlines loom. The stakes are high for the survival and success of the organization, yet if the wall falls when you’re not working, you fundamentally care about yourself, and the team can figure out how to get it done without you.
  3. Accepting Mediocrity.  Your family and teachers had high hopes for you, but you have squandered your talents and people’s faith in you and have accepted mediocrity
  4. You Have Become a Modern-Day Serf. In Russia, until the 19th Century, the serf was tied to the land of the owner, did what they were told, and as little as possible. You have little to give and give what you have reluctantly—and you will get little in the end.
  5. Undermining the Fabric of Society.  Our world is based on people who not only earn a paycheck but uphold our world. If we have firefighters that work reluctantly or police that don’t give their all, we live in a very dangerous world.  If people who build highways don’t give their best, accidents and deaths will be rampant. Our world is based on people who work hard and care.

Quiet Quitters are present in the workplace by the millions. Many are very clever and can outwit hiring interviewers, supervisors, and teams. They may be able to do it for years. I would urge you to think about the impact of what you do. If you have a job that requires more than you want to give, get an easier one and be content with less pay. If you’re not able to be engaged in your job, find another one. 

What we’re seeing is a huge mass of self-indulgent people who, with a little bit of luck, will let you do their work. You don’t deserve to work with Quit Quitters.  They’re just another version of people who have always been around.  It’s our work to change them or change them out. 

Austin, Texas

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Kallendorf, PhD. | (512) 417-9756 

Jack Speer | (512) 417-9428


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