Monday Motivation

Minimal Mondays, Quiet Quitting, Quit but Stay… Ugh!

What have we become? Retention and engagement are everyone’s problem and must become everyone’s job!

This article complements our previous blog, Leading for Retention, in which we noted businesses are struggling to find and retain people. And although there is no silver bullet, we believe retention is everyone’s job. Regardless of your position, people leader, or individual contributor, you can serve as a lifeline for others and create compelling reasons to stay.

Here is the backdrop…

The workplace has undergone massive shifts. Leaders are faced with unprecedented challenges about where, when, and how people work. Is it remote, hybrid, onsite, mandatory, or flexible?

Chaotic work environments and economic instability have slowed innovation and left us feeling distracted, disconnected, and disengaged.

Paychecks no longer ensure loyalty, security, and effort. Panicked and frustrated managers are responding with harsh top-down edicts, layoffs, surveillance, and mandatory meetings.

People are responding with quiet quitting, minimalist Monday and as mentioned in our last blog, they quit but stay and barely work their wage.

The choice is clear. Keep treating people as disposable and join the AI economy. Or rally and build a workplace that compels people to want to stay. A workplace that enables and trusts people to show up as their best selves, deliver their best work, and consider their jobs the best they’ve ever had. Regardless of where, how, and when they work.

Let’s shift the unhealthy, nonproductive perspectives and work habits into something far more fulfilling and meaningful.

It is within our power to make things better for ourselves and others. Employees are people, they’re not assets or resources! They are people with goals, dreams, and desires that can and should be realized at work.

Rest assured, there is a better way, a more human and people-focused way forward. We encourage you to share this blog with bosses and co-workers. Use it kick-start open and honest conversations. Dare to discuss and create new rules of engagement.

With that as our premise, here are a few practical commitments YOU can make to show up as the best version of yourself plus some strategies for discovering the meaning in your work.

Commit to Lifelong Learning

Eric Hoffer, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a prolific author, said, “In times of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”

Learners are curious to the core. Learners don’t say, “I KNOW.”

“I know,” shuts down curiosity and a learner’s spirit. If you find yourself saying, “I know,” in conversation then consider pausing, listening, and thinking about the power of these two words.

Do they add value, or is it a habit you use to boast about your knowledge?

We’re trying to eliminate “I know,” from our conversations.

Learners don’t say, “I know.” The late Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, was a remarkable lifelong learner and a leader who approached everyone with a desire to learn something new. Herb’s curiosity relaxed people. He empowered and invited people to participate and add value to the conversation.

In contrast, we’ve been with other executives who hold court through their authority and arrogance. They dictate the conversation, bloviate during calls and dinner events and thrive on being the life of the party. They put a damper on engaging, interesting, and collaborative conversations.

Arrogance is preemptory and imperious, it shuts people down and typically causes people to armor up and self-protect and/or disengage entirely.

Interest and curiosity, on the other hand, are engaging and disarming. Interest allows for engagement and ongoing growth, learning, and collaboration.

Curious people are always looking for new ways to add value, to the team, customers, community, and lives they touch. They are learners to the core.

How about you? Think about it, the learned are arrogant, thinking they’ve arrived, they know it all. Learners, in contrast, are eager, open, interested, and curious. Both are a force.

What kind of force do you want to be known for, ARROGANT or INTERESTED?

Here are a few ways to grow your curiosity:

Study, learn, and borrow from GOATs. Who are the Greatest Of All Times in your life? Make a list and identify the qualities you would like to learn from and come up with 2-5 qualities you’d like to practice and become known for.

Learn from books, podcasts, and TED talks. Make reading, listening, and watching a daily to do. Commit to spending at least 30 minutes learning from one or a combination of these resources. Takes notes on what you learn and make a conscious effort to share and apply lessons learned. We’ve taken to listening to podcasts and doing so is addicting, enriching, and informative.

Identify your gaps and gifts. Where are your skill deficiencies? And is it important to develop those gaps? If so, what is your best strategy for doing so? What are your gifts and talents? How can you share those talents more boldly to add value and build your brand? These are tough questions to answer on your own, so DO NOT fly solo, these are great exercises to do with a mentor or sponsor. More on this below…

Commit to building a network of mentors/sponsors. We’ve keynoted at a couple of events where Magic Johnson was also a speaker. At both events, Magic shared the value of mentors in his career. In 1979 Magic was the LA Laker’s #1 draft pick. Immediately after he signed with the Lakers, Magic called Owner, Gerry Buss and asked if he’d be his business mentor. Then he asked…”How many season ticket holders?” Buss said, “Over 17,000.” Magic then asked, “How many are Los Angeles CEOs or business leaders.” He learned there were fifty. So Magic invited each one to lunch so he could learn about business. Today Magic remains a business partner with 6 of them.

Think about it, even though Magic was the #1 pick, top of the game, and embarking upon a career as a professional basketball player, he didn’t rest on that headline. He started training for business while he was dominating the game.

There are no quick fixes. Strivers, learners, people who show up as their best don’t waste time looking for instant success strategies. They lace up their shoes each day and go out the door whether they feel like it or not. Strivers are not quitters, they work harder, try harder & step through the QUITTING POINT.

Turn the job into a CAUSE

Striving, and showing up as your best self, requires you to consider the work you do as more than a job. We shared it in our last blog, people are trading net freedom for net worth. More so than ever, people are in search of meaning as much as they need money. Companies that can offer meaning and money can recruit to a cause, a calling, and a purpose in addition to touting profits and paychecks.

Let’s face it, employees are as much in charge as employers, so it’s worth repeating, when your business knows its WHY, what it is doing to improve society, minimize injustice, and pave the way for a better world, then people will choose you. People want what is GOOD, right, noble, and heroic. People are far more willing to work for a cause than a company doing, selling, or producing something similar without a cause. Cause creates a more compelling reason to want to join, stay and strive.

We have worked with and written about several companies that are CAUSE driven. When they first launched more than 55 years ago, Southwest Airlines was created to democratize the skies and make flying affordable to all people. Tata Motors launched the Nano, a car designed and manufactured to democratize the roads in India and make driving affordable to people who could only afford a two-wheeler. National Life Group, one of the fastest-growing insurance companies in the country, is democratizing assurance by making insurance affordable to Middle America and beyond. The National Fire Sprinkler Association saves lives. Their cause: “Sprinklers buy time, time buys life.”

How can you define your business as a cause or a calling? Or a more popular way to think about it is to consider the WHY behind what you do. When you know the WHY the what and how become far more meaningful and will inspire you to show up as your best to do your best. The WHY engages you to stay late, get up early and go the extra mile, not because you have to, because you want to!

As a team ask and discuss:

  • What’s noble & heroic about what you do?
  • How are peoples’ lives enriched, and improved because of what we do?
  • How is the world better because of the work we do?
  • Why do we do what we do?

Once you’ve answered these questions in a simple and inspiring way create a direct line of sight between each team member’s contributions and the WHY / Cause / Mission / Purpose of the business.

Why is a direct line of sight so important? A job will typically help, and help is the operative word, people achieve some level of success. But it’s the WHY, the calling, cause, mission, purpose, the north star that really matters. When you engage in work that matters you put your head on the pillow at night and know your contribution matters… and you matter.

A Yale Study discovered one of the most demoralizing jobs is a hospital janitor. They see and clean the worst of the worst, yet they are the unsung heroes of the hospital. A hospital would be a petri dish on steroids, infested, infectious, and inhabitable without janitors.

Change your words, change your work, change your world.

We’ve worked with a hospital in San Diego that inspired every team member to reframe their job to become a calling.

Housekeepers (janitors) become Hosts of Hospitality. In addition to meeting and exceeding cleaning standards, Hosts also brought warm and cool towels to the patient’s bedside to create spa-like experiences and enhance comfort.

Receptionists in the lobby used a toaster oven and baked cookies to bring the smell of home to the hospital.

A nurse collected shells that looked like angel wings. The shells were placed in jars around the hospital so employees could share an angel with patients or family member feeling anxious.

Steve Jobs was famous for saying “Our customers dream of a happier and better life. Don’t just sell products, enrich lives.”

In our words, don’t pitch, enrich. Don’t just get the job done, make your work matter. Rediscover the WHY behind what and how you do your job.

Again, words matter! Change your words, change your work, change your world.

Words affect thoughts, thoughts affect behavior, behavior affects habits, and habits impact and guide your life. If you’re still not convinced, watch the comedian Michael Jr inspire a music teacher and redefine the way he shows by embracing the “WHY” in his work.

We’ve engaged many clients to ask team members to define the WHY in their work. We’ve done this virtually with over 800 people, the sessions were inspiring. We’ve done it onsite and recently encouraged over 200 public service professional teams to start each shift with the activity.

It’s a simple, yet profound exercise. You asks everyone on your team to finish this sentence:

“My Job matters Because….”

Give people time to answer and then share round robin style. The ideas are enlightening, engaging, and contagious.

Leadership requires no title, no badge. Leadership is about taking responsibility and ownership. It’s showing up as the best version of you every day, all day. It’s a desire to advance a cause, a calling, the reason you said yes to your job in the first place. Think of it this way, leadership is a desire to own, personalize and elevate your work. And in turn, your example will inspire others to do the same.

Let’s end grinding, quiet quitting, and minimal Mondays by doing work that matters and making a difference. Let’s discover or rediscover the meaning in our work.

When you know the WHY behind what you do, your work becomes a calling and a cause. You will want to show up, perform at your best and know your efforts and contributions matter.

John Quincy Adams, once said, “You are a leader when your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more.”

Be a leader, own your destiny, personalize your contribution, elevate your brand and inspire others to do the same.