So I was listening to Patrick Lencioni’s podcast earlier, which you can find on Spotify. I love his stuff, and I’ve read a lot of his books too. In this particular podcast episode of his, which is just 15 minutes long, he mentions something called “quiet quitting.”
I played this episode, wondering what it was. Turns out, quiet quitting is something that a lot of publishers today write about, and he wasn’t so happy about it.
When I learned what it was, I wasn’t so happy about it either—because quiet quitting is basically just quitting, but you’re still getting paid by the company.
So you’re not resigned, you’re not fired, you’re just there at work doing the bare minimum.
Patrick Lencioni tells the story of this guy named Jeff. He asks him, “Hey, Jeff, what have you been doing? Because we don’t feel your output. We don’t see anything that you’re producing right now.”
And Jeff tells Patrick Lencioni, “Well, you know, Pat, for three years I’ve worked hard. For three years I’ve worked hard, and right now I’m just harvesting the results of my work. So I’m just laid back waiting for the company to fire me or waiting for them to ask me to resign or waiting for myself to resign.”
Now, I don’t know what he’s thinking, but he says that he’s just waiting, harvesting the results of his work, and getting paid for it. Long story short, quiet quitting is about doing just the bare minimum at your work.
And see, there’s a problem with that because the market is very, very competitive. If you’re in the tech space like I am, you will know that everything moves so fast here, it’s disruptive and super duper competitive.
I’m in the business of SEO. There are only ten spots on Google that matter to users. Ten honors. That’s it. You either rank up or rank down. And when you’re not on the first page of Google, no one really cares about you because no one goes to the second page anymore. This competition demands excellence. We have to be excellent.
So if there’s someone who is just doing the bare minimum in an organization, then that person is not helping that company to be excellent.
Remember this: the marketplace and the business world demands excellence.
And when they demand excellence, that means every person inside an organization has to produce excellent results as if their life depended on it.
We are all called for work. One-third of our lives, we spend at work.
Someday when we meet our maker, do you want to say, “You know, I did the bare minimum. You gave me all of these talents, this life gave me good health for the most part, and for one-third of my life, which is work, I just did the bare minimum.”
What do you think our maker will say when he hears that? Probably nothing very good for you or me, if that is how we have chosen to work.
So if the market demands excellence, we have to be excellent.
We have a core value in SEO Hacker and that core value is unity. And to have a very good, well-united team, you have to watch out for people who are just doing the bare minimum. Because largely that will be seen as incompetence by your excellent players.
We have this very good illustration from Dave Ramsey where he says, “There are two kinds of people in the workplace. There are stallions and there are donkeys.”
What donkeys do is they form a circle, they face the threat and with their hind legs they kick each other to death. Donkeys will kick each other to death. They’re noisy, they gossip, they’re lazy, and they do the bare minimum.
The second kind of people, they’re the stallions. The stallions run fast, they run hard. And when faced with a threat, a group of stallions will face each other and kick the threat to death. You have stallions and (hopefully not), you might have some donkeys in your team.
They don’t get along so well because stallions think that donkeys are noisy. Stallions think that donkeys are lazy and vice versa. The donkeys think that the stallions make them look bad. So they’re noisy. They gossip around.
For you to be able to have a very good united team, you have to have just one of a kind. You either have stallions or donkeys, and that’s it. And donkeys are not very good with unity either. So you will only really want stallions in your team. You have to get rid of the donkeys.
Sanctioned incompetence is one of the biggest enemies of unity. If you allow donkeys to stay, the stallions will say, “How come this leader, our leader, is allowing sanctioned incompetence in our team? If they’re just doing the bare minimum, maybe I should just do the bare minimum.”
But because they’re stallions, they’re not going to want to. So what happens is they’re going to move to another place and you’re going to be losing your stallions. And that’s bad for your company. That’s bad for business.
Going back to that illustration of Patrick Lencioni and Jeff. Jeff was harvesting. He was just in his mind, reaping the harvest of three years of hard work. But we have a saying yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.
What happened yesterday, whether you worked hard, whether it was excellent, that’s yesterday. That helped make today. But if you don’t work today, what’s your tomorrow going to be?
There’s also a saying that yesterday is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present. What are you doing with this gift? Are you squandering it? Are you wasting it?
We have 24 hours a day. That’s around 83,000 seconds. If you think about it, that’s a lot of time that we are given by our maker every day. This is why I think that quiet quitting is one of the most horrible things that you can do or that you can allow one of your people to do in a company or an organization.
Think about it. If you are working for the President of the United States, and you work directly for them, how will you perform? Would you perform excellently or would you perform like a quiet quitter?
I would bet that if you work for the president, you would give your best and your all because you know you’re working for the big guy.
But the thing is, in truth, we all work for the biggest guy. The Bible says whether you eat or drink or work, you do it for God. Not for human masters. And that means something, so you must produce your best work every day because you know nothing that you do for the Lord is ever useless.
Now, let’s say, for example, maybe you’re in that situation where you have a quiet quitter or you have a person who is just mediocre. You know, they’re in harvest mode. What do you need to do?
Well, first, I would suggest you assess yourself as the leader.
Did you engage this person? Do you even know their name? Do you know what’s happening in their lives? Did you equip this person? Do they have everything they need to perform their work well? Did you remove all the obstacles that may be hindering this person from doing his or her best work? And lastly, did you explain to this person how to succeed in his or her job?
If there are no measurements, if there are no rules for success or failure, clear-cut rules, then it may be your fault why they’re being quiet quitters, why they’re being harvesters and just doing the bare minimum.
But if you’ve provided all of these things, you know them, you know what’s happening with them, they are engaged, you remove all obstacles and you equip them for the work so that they can perform excellently, you’ve explained clearly to them what success looks like, what failure looks like, then I suggest you help them not to quietly quit, but to quit altogether.
Get rid of them, fire them. That would be the best, not just for you, but for every stallion you have in your organization.
Now, my challenge for you is to assess, look at your team or look at yourself if you’re an individual working in an organization. Are you sometimes, in some ways a quiet quitter or do you do the best work you possibly can?
Because today is a gift and that’s given to you for free. But it doesn’t mean that this gift is cheap. Every day that you’re alive and healthy, is a blessing.