Quiet Quitters Aren't Snowflakes

Author: Rob Ackers

Quiet Quitters aren’t Snowflakes. Its all our fault.


“Quiet Quitting” has become a major trend across TikTok, but what is driving people to do it?

You would be forgiven for thinking that it’s a group of “snowflakes” (a horrible term) who don’t want to put in the work but its quite the opposite. It’s a group of young, driven, highly motivated individuals who are desperate to make themselves better but simply don’t know how to do it.

It’s a big problem and in most cases, it is not their fault. The problem starts with how most of us review performance.

Most performance reviews focus on the wrong things. They focus on numbers, which are driven by all sorts of factors, of which the ability of the individual is only a part. In many cases, after talking about those numbers for 80% of the time, the last few moments are then dedicated to skills, behaviors and career progression. When competency is considered, it is often based on a fixed set of company wide criteria which have little or no relevance to the individual in question.
From the perspective of the individual, this tells them:

1. What you achieve is all that matters, not how you achieve it
2. The only way to progress is to do more

Changing Performance Reviews is the best way to avoid “quiet quitting”, or any other mechanism through which people stop engaging because they simply don’t know where the next step is.

Here’s a controversial thought – let’s take results out of the performance review. They don’t need to be there. They are already recorded in most cases, and everyone knows what they are. Let’s talk about the reasons behind the results that we can affect. In most cases, that’s the individuals’ skills, behaviors and competency in relation to their role.

But how do we do that?

A competency framework is a good start. Let’s identify which skills and behaviors represent what each role should be and group them into job families. Here’s an example for sales with 4 levels of competency:


Foundation: I have a standard set of responses to objections that are based on those used by my colleagues and product documentation. I sometimes need support on objections outside of these.

Intermediate: I have a clear process for handling objections and have built up a set of standard responses to the regular objections I receive. I am generally able to identify the relevant response to an objection.

Advanced: I focus on actively listening, clarifying what each objection really means and what is driving it. I prepare for objections and deal with them early if possible. I can identify and apply the relevant response and am comfortable focusing on value to overcome objections.

Expert: I look to clarify what an objection means, understand the motivation behind it and then address that motivation. I do not rely on pre-defined objection handling responses. I prepare and focus on value, positioning our offerings so that they maximize our value to the decision maker

Here you find the first challenge with this approach – creating your competencies in a way that provides enough differentiation between skill levels but doesn’t create so many different behaviors that it becomes unwieldy.

Then, let’s objectively measure all the people in that role against those skills and see how everyone stacks up. That’s the second problem – making the measurement objective and avoiding people’s tendency to rate themselves incorrectly and to end up with an average result.

Use the comparison to show someone where they are vs. their current role, what they need to do to get to the next one. Once you’ve done that for everyone, you’ll end up with something a bit like this:


From here you can see where you have strengths and weaknesses across your teams and train accordingly – be that sharing best practice and coaching internally where you have a range of skill levels or identifying areas where you are lacking and providing suitable training to close those gaps.

All this enables you to build specific development plans for everyone that tells them what they need to do to move forward in their career in your organization, whether that be within the job family they are now or a different one. They can focus their efforts on developing the right skills and not on things that end up leaving them frustrated and joining the “quiet quitting” bandwagon.

Sound simple? In theory, yes – in practice more challenging, particularly when working with a large group of people and tracking those changes over time. This is the third and final problem and is where most competency frameworks fall down. Implementing this and making it a part of your business is hard, particularly if you are trying to do this via Excel or a tool that’s not built for the purpose.

So, if you are struggling with “quiet quitting”, or just to provide clear progression pathways for your people that’s impacting retention then a competency framework might be a good way to go. We’ve helped to build a lot of them for a range or organizations so if you want to learn more about how this approach can help you then reach out to us – we’re more than happy to talk to you about what we’ve done and provide you with some advice to help you along the way.

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