I listened as she shared her frustration. It wasn’t new. I had heard it before. The question she had brought to her immediate supervisor was met with derision and a terse statement about how the answer was in the procedure manual.
I could see the reason for the leader’s irritated response, as it was a busy time and the answer could be found without requiring a conversation.
Regardless, the person in front of me was relatively new and the learning the leader imagined they were giving through their aggravated response came across as belittling and dehumanizing.
The only learning that happened was an understanding that the leader didn’t value their follower.
In a matter of seconds the leader crushed the relationship required to create a strong employee.
As I watched her despondent body language, I asked what would have been a helpful response. She leaned forward and said imploringly, “an answer that treated me with respect.”
She continued, “I should have looked in the manual before asking the question, and I felt pressure from the person on the phone to get a quick answer. Now I don’t ever want to ask a question again.”
The leader’s impatient response marked the beginning of the end for her. I watched her light fade, she stopped asking questions and started skirting issues that required conversations with her boss, and it wasn’t long before she told me she was leaving.
Quiet quitting at its best.
Some people cannot pinpoint the beginning of their quiet quitting, yet it is highly likely there is a common thread to the reason for its beginning: devaluation.
Could her immediate supervisor have avoided the outcome of turnover and the resulting fallout?
Yes. 100% yes.
Made it a personal responsibility to understand and believe she is valuable.
When we forget that the question - as frustrating as it may be - is coming from a human like us, our response will always devalue and tear down.
Leaders, we have influence, whether it is deserved or not. When we forget that fact, the results are tragic.
So, how do leaders avoid aiding and abetting quiet quitting?
Two words: patience and humility.
I have a challenge for all who sit in leadership positions (or those who desire to do so): do everything in your power to grow patience and humility.
Know that every response matters.
What you believe about those with whom you interact is always expressed through your words and actions.
If you believe you are better (lack of humility), your response will show it.
If you don’t think you have time to interact with that person at that time (impatience), your response will show it.
Every word carries weight.
Every non-verbal cue carries weight.
A single moment may never be rectified, even if you try for the rest of your life.
Without patience and humility, a leader is guaranteed to shatter trust and the relationship it is buttressing.
Leaders cannot afford to be impatient or harbor an exaggerated sense of their own importance.
The greater the influence, the greater the necessity to cultivate patience and humility.
The greater the influence, the greater the necessity to be WITH.