October 2022
The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Quiet Quitting and Business Owners


Quiet Quitting and Business Owners

As a result of a TikTok video posted by Zaid Khan that went viral, with over 3 million views, the term “quiet quitting” has become the subject of extensive media coverage. The CBC, BBC, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and just about every other media source have commented on this new phenomenon. But is it new? Haven’t there always been employees who only do the bare minimum?

In a nutshell, quiet quitting is when employees do the equivalent of working-to-rule if they were in a union. If their hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m., those are precisely the hours they work, and good luck with trying to get them to do anything outside their job description. They lack engagement; it’s a job, and that’s that! There is no commitment to emotional energy. To some people, this designates them as workshy or lazy. To others, it’s fighting for work-life balance.

The quiet-quitting phenomenon was born, in part at least, from the burnout people felt during and after the pandemic. There was a move toward an expectation of fair monetary compensation – of not being taken advantage of by employers. This stems from a general feeling that employers constantly want employees to do more while giving very little, if anything, in return. Loyalty, employees feel, is not always a two-way street. When people don’t see that their extra effort results in more money or fast-tracks them up the corporate ladder, they become disillusioned. Personal goals are sidelining career goals. People work fewer hours, and a lower percentage work like dogs to reach the top. The “top” no longer seems as important as it once did.

We went from being constantly connected to our jobs to wanting to switch off and disconnect from our jobs after hours. Today, due to the mass retirement of the baby boomer generation, almost every company is looking for workers. This exodus of workers, combined with young people expecting to work fewer hours and making their personal life a priority, has caused a perfect storm.

While all the media coverage focuses on employees, what about you as a small business owner, freelancer, consultant, or micro-enterprise? The last three years have been challenging and we are all jaded. Business owners and those in the gig economy are also quiet quitting, even if they don't realize it. Are you one of them? What are the signs?

  • Are you working as many hours as you were three years ago?
  • Is it harder to see a successful future?
  • Are you struggling with giving your business enough emotional engagement?
  • Are your coffee breaks and lunch hours getting longer?
  • Are Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of social media more of a time-waster than they used to be?
  • Do you get easily distracted by home life and other responsibilities?
  • Is your phone switched off more often after hours and at weekends? Do you delay answering business inquiries until regular business hours?
  • Are you finding it harder to motivate yourself to market your company and make sales?
  • Do you plan to take your business to the next level, or are you procrastinating?
  • Does your business still excite you?

If you answered yes to the majority of the questions above, you might revisit your commitment to your business. Here are a few more thoughts and suggestions to help you recognize if you are quietly quitting and what you might do about it.

  • Do my business and the work I do still excite me? Is it a joy or a drudge to turn up?
  • Make a list of everything you like and dislike about your business and, more importantly, your daily tasks.
  • What excites you about what you do for a living?
  • If you were employed instead of self-employed, would you quit?
  • Before quitting, what would you ask of your boss that would make you stay?

Is there a way forward? There are several things you can do to reenergize your business.

  • Consider rebranding to breathe new life into the business.
  • Look at your products and services and get rid of those that are dragging you down. Introduce new, exciting ones.
  • Bring a partner in to reenergize your business, especially someone who likes to do the things that drain your emotional energy.
  • Reinvest emotionally and financially in your business – maybe that partner could also be an investor.

Get real. Do you want out? Really? Is it time for a new chapter in your life? Do you need to move on? Are there more important things you need to be doing?

Don’t quietly quit – take control.

Quiet Quitting and Business Owners


Effectively Expedite Your Decisions

Making decisions is not always easy, but when you delay an important decision, it is usually less effective. Procrastination and compromise are the enemies of good decision-making, so create a strategy that helps you make the best possible decisions every time. Here is a 10-step plan to help you the next time you have to assess a situation and decide on an appropriate course of action.

  1. Analyze the reason why you need to make the decision. It is easy to focus on the symptoms causing the need for a decision. Dealing with symptoms, however, leads to short-term solutions; it is only when your decision also takes into account the root cause that you will have long-term answers. Your decision should also include a forward-thinking strategy that deals with the underlying issues.
  2. Get other people’s opinions, but choose wisely. Seek out people with relevant experience and those closest to the action – people on the front line.
  3. Don’t seek consensus. Consensus leads to a situation where everyone can live with the decision, but no one likes it. Decisions made with the idea of offending the least number of people are rarely popular with anyone and are usually ineffective. A good decision does not have to be well-liked.
  4. Step back and carry out a cost-benefit analysis of your options. Compare the decisions you could make and consider their benefits and risks in the short and long term. Play the “what-if” game, especially when considering each decision's best and worst-case scenarios.
  5. Don’t delay making a decision. Gather the facts and act in a timely fashion. The problem with taking time to decide is that everything is in a state of flux. By delaying your decision, you are in danger of taking action that is no longer appropriate. Think about your past decisions. Were the outcomes of decisions you laboured over for weeks any better than those where you took decisive action? Not making a decision is deciding to retain the status quo, which has ramifications. Set yourself a time limit on making a decision and stick to it.
  6. Don’t be tempted to constantly make decisions that affect only the short-term situation. Find a balance that incorporates decisions focused on the longer time frame.
  7. Take responsibility for your decisions, and own them, regardless of whether they were well received by those around you. Your team will have faith in your leadership if you show that you are taking control and being decisive.
  8. Communication is key to successful decision-making. Be open and transparent with all stakeholders, and tell them how and why you made the decision and the logic you used. Even if people don’t like your decision, they are more likely to respect you if they understand the process you undertook to reach it.
  9. Hindsight is 20/20. Don’t beat yourself up when you review past decisions. Later, when you have the luxury of seeing how everything panned out, you will see the situation in a way that was not open to you initially.
  10. Regularly review past decisions and evaluate how effective they were. Ask yourself, could I have done things differently given the information available at the time? What other resources could I have employed to ensure a better outcome?

You must make decisions whether in a leadership position or running a one-person business. However, how and when you make those decisions will directly affect outcomes. Your biggest risk lies in doing nothing or doing it too late.

Quiet Quitting and Business Owners


Coach's Corner - Five Ways to Develop Your Powers of Observation

“Learn to see what you are looking at.” ― Christopher Paolini, Inheritance

In his recent book entitled See, Solve, Scale (St. Martin’s Press, 2022), Danny Warshay, a professor at Brown University, writes about the importance of what he calls “bottom-up research.” See, Solve, Scale is targeted at entrepreneurs and business people and investigates how better observation can lead to discovering unmet needs, which, in turn, may lead to developing new products or services. “Bottom-up research” focuses on observation and listening and can be applied by entrepreneurs and established businesses seeking innovative ideas.

Observation and listening are critical skills for leaders in any business or organization. Whether you are developing a new product or simply wanting to understand the people around you, taking the time to observe, listen, and reflect on the information you have gathered will assist you in your leadership.

  1. Be Open to Receiving Information – Preconceived ideas and beliefs hamper your ability to receive new information. In any situation, consider your biases and filters that might impede your ability to observe and listen openly.
  2. Be Intentional in Your Observations – Defining your intentions before making observations is essential. What goals am I trying to achieve by carrying out these observations?
  3. Be Focused – Eliminate or minimalize distractions when observing and listening. What could interfere with your concentration and ability to give a situation your undivided attention?
  4. Use All of Your Senses – Listening and observation require you to notice things like inflections in speech and a person’s body language. How can you ensure that you are being alert in every way?
  5. Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills – Take time to reflect on the data you collect. What crucial information did you receive, and how will you use it?

Follow these five tips and increase your ability to actively observe situations. Better observation and analysis of any situation will help you make better decisions when growing your organization. Improved observation skills can also lead to new opportunities you have yet to imagine.

“One can state, without exaggeration, that the observation of, and the search for, similarities and differences are the basis of all human knowledge.” — Alfred Nobel

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching


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