Feb 15, 2023
Introduction: Agnieszka Wolinska-Skuza is CEO of MasConsulting. She is an experienced strategic consultant with a background in top management consulting in Corporations. Agnieszka from the Warsaw School of Economics & gained her PhD in Economics from the University of Westminster in London, Trinity College London. Agnieszka is the author of the book The ART of Changing Your Mindset. Agnieszka recently moved to Barcelona where she lives with her husband and two children.
Podcast episode Summary: This podcast discusses the important topic of Quiet Quitting, a phenomenon that is not new but has gained increasing interest and concern post the Pandemic. Agnieszka shares how pervasive Quiet Quitting is and what Leaders need to become to address this pernicious concern and to focus decisively on people. Much has to do with Mindset, the mindset around leadership, growth supporting a robust culture and responsibility.
Points made throughout the Episode:
Agnieszka entered came into this field by observing organisations in the process of change using her background in business consulting. She observed a lot of issues with Productivity, Retention and Mental Health issues post-Pandemic including of course geo-political and social crisis & high inflation together having a profound impact on workforce strategy
Quiet Quitting is a complex topic that Agnieszka has been investigating for a long time. It is not a new phenomenon but before it did not get the attention it is receiving today.
Quiet quitting presents in different ways making it complex to observe and detect. It impacts many elements of the business including a powerful retention strategy.
Quiet Quitting can be defined as a phenomenon where you can observe that people are disengaged at work, where people are losing motivation, losing focus, uneven participation by withholding and detaching psychologically from the job. Employees can refuse more tasks & question why it is important to work hard.
Quiet Quitting can be simply described as a change in Engagement
The critical characteristics of high performing Leaders & their teams and how much mindset influences how they are managed. Mindset is critical for Leaders and in particular having a Growth Mindset.
A Growth Mindset predisposes leaders to create a healthy culture of accountability, that drives business growth. Leaders with a Growth Mindset see opportunities within their teams, they look for possibility, they don’t hide believing all efforts have been wasted and they do not blame others.
Leaders who lead with a Growth Mindset make every effort to accelerate their teams growth even in times of crisis.
So leading with a Growth Mindset is critical if you chose to create a team that is pro-active, creative and solution focused.
Exceptional Leaders know & appreciate they have to consciously grow their skills and the skills of their teams. Strong passion, energy and a vision for growth inspires others to be part of business growth and success.
To adopt a Growth Mindset you have to interrogate your beliefs, thoughts and feelings and in order to assume a growth mindset you have to believe in the possibility for growth, to look opportunistically and to be focused energetically. You won’t be minded to blame the situation but be oriented to search for solutions.
You can always find a way forward if you look for possibility and solutions. If you have a fixed mindset the likelihood is that you will give up and retreat, you will always blame the situation and people and you will likely lose people.
Given how tired and exhausted Leaders and people are after the pandemic the question becomes one of asking how to try to do more with a more positive energy.
People are valuing their time differently and so if they observe that their leaders are not behaving positively they will put distance between them and what they esteem to be toxic leadership.
Focus and being deliberate or intentional about what work means today, giving people a new sense of belonging are ways to help retain people.
After the Pandemic people have come to value their time differently. They are focused on how they spend their time and the quality of that investment.
So quiet quitting is really about changing in engagement -Engagement is a kind of choice. You can chose to engage or to withdraw.
A culture that engages people could look like improvements in the ways flexibility is offered to work, a re-focus on purpose and an acknowledgement that empathy is required.
Leaders also need to look at time, their relationship to time, engagement and their choice of Leadership
Leaders are feeling the pressure of change, of market forces of their work loads and their own mental health. Important for Leaders to mind their mental health to be able to share their energy & empathy with others.
There is an onus on Leaders to monitor their state of mind. If you lose your energy and it impacts your capacity to be empathetic people will feel this and be equally impacted.
State of mind is everything and it is an everyday occupation. If you want to have a strong mindset you need to feed your mind every day.
How does Quiet Quitting show up? No one will tell you as a Leader that quiet quitting has become a phenomenon in your organisation but you can begin to observe behaviours and be curious. Isolation, participating less, valuing time differently are the hidden signs that something in the culture is amiss. This amounts to disengagement at work. Others signs include becoming less available for mandatory meetings or less volunteering for social events or even not answering emails promptly or as before.
Gallup has for years now being reporting on engagement at work. Statistics consistently slight poor levels of engagement at work at around 33%. Quiet Quitting is not knew and so how can Leaders be more bothered about their approaches?
It is important to remember the power dynamic at work and Leaders have a disproportionate amount of power available to them and this power can be used to energise the work force.
Wellbeing, retention strategies, upskilling etc are all tools which if employed can make the job of workers more fulfilling. How do Leaders help their teams see this perspective together. They have to re-think how to engage teams in this work as well.
There needs to a recognition that people are valuing their time differently and they have talent that can be deployed. This requires new thinking, new methods of approach and more proactivity on the part of Leaders and teams.
It could be advantageous to start asking and questioning the employee base for their new thinking, to hear their obstacles and concerns and to find solutions together.
It is one thing to conduct exit interviews and hear the missing factors that precipitated a leave and another to engage earlier to understand how an organisations atmosphere could be improved.
Being explicit about the business, business performance, the standard you are respecting, the values you are honouring and the ethics by which you are operating are all features that could make a difference to employees to hear.
If Leaders chose to take a critical look at their culture and to institute change they need to go back to the fundamentals and examine their values. Open and transparent dialogue is required along with perhaps a modicum of vulnerability by the leader- asking for help for example.
As a Leader if you sense there are issues with your culture with Quiet Quitting don’t hide.
Changing Culture requires that the effort be shared, where joint responsibility for the success is owned collectively. This can happen if the right atmosphere is created and there are no negative consequences for speaking up or sharing ideas.
Quiet Quitting and a lack of psychological safety are probably pretty close cousins which suggests that there is a large gap to address to course correct. It doesn’t mean it is impossible to recover especially if the right attitude is employed and Leaders can admit that they missed information.
The Pandemic has more than likely contributed to Quiet Quitting and the opportunity to catch creeping disillusionment when people were working from home and on screens.
To start adopt a Growth Mindset. Find out what are the limiting beliefs and obstacles on teams. Lack of trust for example is a limiting belief, or the idea that if people work remotely they will not be productive. Leaders might resist, by micro managing etc. this instead of looking for alternative solutions.
Accepting the phenomenon of hybrid working, accepting that people have a changed relationship to time could result in some constructive new norms that everyone can agree.
Leaders often underestimate their success in creating conditions of belonging for example believing they are doing a better job than others judge them to be doing.
Deloitte research has found considerable discrepancies or disconnect between how a Leader perceives their effort and how an employee experiences it. Only 56% of employees believe a company’s executives cares about their wellbeing whereas the same executives score themselves 91%
Leaders have to be aware of theses gaps in perception as cited by Deloitte and start with manageable strategies to narrow these gaps.
Agnieszka suggests starting by setting clear expectations for teams, asking questions about working hours, and reasonableness in terms of those same expectations. There is often a large gap between expectations and realism.
Role clarity, growth opportunities and expectations are subjects or topics that are often not clear & require conversation. Are we clear about the many limiting beliefs and obstacles that sit on teams? Does the team feel connected to the Organisations Purpose?
Start with a diagnostic and get a base line understanding of where people are, knowing it might be hard to digest but recognising that this is a process and a start.
Agnieszka’s book covers 12 areas in business and in life that are important. Her book is about transformational change in each of this areas. To help she teaches her readers at the start of her book how to adopt a Growth Mindset. Change for the subsequent chapters is made easier by using this particular lens.
Agnieszka also talks about our Comfort Zone and notices how important this is for Quiet Quitting too. She encourages us to move outside of our comfort zone to deal with Quiet Quitting. It might appear as hard work at first but it can also be very rewarding.
If Leaders are willing to put themselves outside of their comfort zone they should not resist Quiet Quitting but instead take actions to minimise it, investigate and ask probing questions to do with the company’s purpose, structure, conditions etc.
Leaders need to create the space for employees to be part of the solution. If they hold on to solving the surfaced issues by themselves they are in fact engaging in a fixed mindset and likely disenchant further.
People are happy to share their thoughts, ideas etc if they see it can yield value.
Agnieszka’s final request to listeners and Leaders is to focus on people
Resources shared across this conversation
The ART of Changing Your Mindset by Agnieszka Wolinska-Skuza
Deloitte Insight www.deoitte.com/insights