On Managing Expectations and Quiet Quitting
As you peruse this site and my social media, you’ll find that it’s largely dedicated to coffee, gardening, and my dogs. Privately and personally, I have very strong opinions on just about any topic you want to discuss, but I try to keep my little coffee company out of it. To paraphrase a young Michael Jordan, “Republicans buy coffee, too.” He meant sneakers, but you get my point.
As a very small business owner who’s seriously considering hiring his first employee, the current discussion around the concept of “quiet quitting” hits close to home. This is the first time I need to consider it from the point of view of a business owner, though, and that shift in perspective, honestly, hasn’t really changed my opinion on the matter. Spoiler alert: I’m a fan.
Quick background: I earned my undergrad degree from Tufts University, my law degree from DePaul University College of Law, and my Masters in Teaching from National Louis University in Illinois. As I used to tell my middle school students, “I’ve been some places, I’ve met some people, and I’ve done some things.” I’ve worked in salmon fisheries in Alaska, I’ve waited tables, I was a damn good barista, I bartended, I worked in undergraduate admissions, I was a tax attorney (more of an advisor, really), I taught middle school, I briefly worked in finance, I’ve had a small speaking role in a movie (will never tell), I’ve worked in marketing and brand management, etc. At 45 years old, the vast majority of my life has been spent working for someone else. Agreeing to trade time – my very life essence - for the money necessary to survive. It’s no small thing to ask of someone. As such, that time deserves to be respected, if not venerated. It’s finite, and there’s no telling how much we each get. It’s sacred and should be treated as such.
As a job applicant, my least favorite question, by far, was “What’s your biggest weakness?” My mistake was that I was always honest. “I have a tendency,” I’d say, “to work to meet expectations.” I’d meet them, but volunteering to exceed them just wasn’t something I’d typically choose to do. I didn’t often hear back from those companies, schools, firms, etc. I was an advocate for “quiet quitting” before it was cool (yeah, I’m being that guy). If the employer, on their job listing, indicates that I will be paid a certain salary for performing Tasks A-F and I actually complete those Tasks well, then I should be considered good at my job. Instead, we’ve had decades of companies listing only Tasks A-F, while also secretly expecting you to choose to take on Tasks G-L. For free. You know, to be a “team player.” If those Tasks are that important, hire someone to do them. Explicitly. For pay. If you want me to do them, then we need to discuss my terms of employment…specifically the compensation.
As a to-be employer, I need to make it clear what I expect my new employee to do and how much time it should take…including travel/commute time. It’s still time. I cannot expect my new employee to be a mind reader & take on roles I didn't ask them to...on the off chance that it might eventually be rewarded. Sometime in the future. Maybe. I absolutely cannot expect them to care even a fraction as much about my company as I do (my coffee, yes, but not my company). Expecting more than you’re willing to be honest and upfront about is a failing by the employer, not by the employee whose time is far more valuable than that company can ever be. My message to my future employee: Own Your Time.