History repeats itself. Yet, we often fail to learn from past lessons because we don’t pay attention or because our arrogance convinces us that we are somehow "different."

It's funny. We even come up with new labels for old behaviors. How many times have you heard the phrase “quiet quitting” over the last few months? In the past, we called this behavior "mailing it in," "flying under the radar," "checked out," or even referred to the individuals as "slackers."

Now we’re hearing the term “quiet firing” as if this is some new phenomenon.

To me, this becomes an assignment of trendy labels to somehow rationalize poor behavior on the part of employers and employees alike. Of the many downsides to these labels, one of the most dangerous is the distrust and suspicion it fosters between employer and employee.

This has to stop, starting with the employer

Building a team is one of the greatest responsibilities of owning and running a business. If an employer is creating an environment that fosters "quiet quitting," they must start by looking in the mirror and asking, "Why?"

However, no answer to that question justifies their responding with "quiet firing."

Maybe more than most, our industry has been guilty of this for decades. We may not have had a label for it befire, but we’ve all seen agencies allowing employees to hang around for too long when they are no longer a fit.

Based on my industry experience, agencies are horrible at making tough employment decisions. They hold on way too long.

You can be TOO “nice”

I think it's mainly because, as a small business, we connect so strongly and personally to our employees. We tolerate poor performance out of a sense of obligation to the employee.

While that is admirable, it is often carried to an extreme.

The first obligation (responsibility) of an owner/leader must be to keep the organization healthy. A healthy organization (especially a small one) requires everyone on the team to contribute at a high level. If, as an employer, you aren't taking care of the organization, it is only a matter of time before you won't be able to take care of the individuals.

Don't get me wrong; you also have a responsibility to everyone on the team that aligns with keeping the organization healthy.

  • You have a responsibility to communicate the direction of the company.
  • You are responsible for being clear about your expectations for every individual to contribute.
  • You are responsible for providing the training, coaching, and resources to allow them to contribute successfully.
  • You have a responsibility to provide regular and meaningful feedback on their performance.
  • And, when you have an individual who isn’t willing or able to contribute to the highest company standard, you have a final responsibility to the organization (and the individual) to find that person another role or terminate their employment.

Of course, it's hard!

It should always be difficult to fire someone. If it isn't, you waited too long.

The other employees should always be at least a little surprised when you fire someone. If they aren't, you waited too long.

You should never be in a position to badmouth an employee who quit. If you are, you waited too long.

When you wait too long, not only do you allow poor performance to slow you down, you damage your credibility with those whom you are charged to lead. I promise you that your team is watching and waiting for you to perform your job the way it needs to be performed.

As a leader, don't put yourself in a position to be considered a "quiet quitter" by not meeting the difficult responsibilities of your job.


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