This is a Guest Editorial by long-time community leader Rayanne Buchianico:
The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and Culture Killers
By Rayanne Buchianico
I started my career in a different world. I was grateful to have a job during a recession. I quickly learned the rules of the road and performed my work to the best of my ability, and most times, I went above and beyond what was asked of me. I had some great employers in my early career. I also had some awful bosses. I took lessons from all of them to build my leadership skills into the person I am. I purposely built my company so I could be the boss I always wanted to have. I thought, “If I make this a great place to work, everything else will fall into place.”
That worked for a long time, until it didn’t.
My company offers competitive salaries and an exceptional benefit package, flexible hours, extensive PTO, a stocked kitchen for lunches and snacks, company outings, and countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. I wondered who could possibly hate working here?
Two people decided that what I offered them was not good enough. They bonded. The gossiping and whispering began. I ignored it. The gossiping and whispering got louder and started to include other people in the office. I ignored it some more. The work was getting done. The clients were happy. I didn’t much care what they thought about me. I continued to work to make it a great place to be and pretended not to notice. After all, no one came to me with a concern or a complaint.
To be fair, I had a lot going on during this time. It was busy season, my workload was off the charts, I purchased a building, and I had some personal issues that needed attention. I was not as present in the office as I typically am.
Then, it got worse. Some of my co-workers stopped communicating with me altogether. If I asked a question, they answered. If I asked them to do something, they did it. But, the underlying tone and lack of camaraderie was clear. You could feel the tension in the office. The forced laughter when they were in groups. The quick hush when I walked nearby. I should have put an end to it right then. You know how hindsight goes.
Instead, I sent one of the instigators to work from home full time. That kept them out of the office, but not off text messages. I began coaching another team member into a leadership position. I was sure I could turn this around. The more I did to improve the atmosphere, the worse it seemed to get. I called in a culture coach. I hired a leadership coach. I read books. I listened to podcasts. I organized company events. I thought I was doing everything right.
I met an MSP owner at a recent event. She went through the exact same scenario and took all the same steps I was taking. We had a good long talk about this, and I want to share what I learned.
Make sure you are not the problem
This was the main takeaway for me. I was so sure the problem was not me, that I never stopped to double-check. Employees need a clear path to success.
- Set goals for each team member
- Provide timelines and budgets
- Be sure you can measure their progress – and actually measure it!
- Review their work
- Written procedures are great, but training sessions are better
- In-office games
- Sports pools
- Friendly competitions with prizes
Your employees need to know what it means to be successful at your company. Just coming to work and completing tickets and going home does not help to bolster morale or pride in a job well done. Be specific in your expectations and review them regularly with your team. What are they doing well? Where can they improve? Set goals for improvement and follow-up in 30 days.
Talk to your teammates one-on-one. No one likes to be called out in a team huddle. You need a one-on-one relationship with each member of your team.
Reward your team
Not all rewards need to be monetary. Sure, your co-workers will not turn down extra money, but that may not be their primary motivator. Ask them what they like to do. What are their interests? Can you do something meaningful for them? Gift cards and money are nice but so impersonal. Try stepping up your game.
- Buy a local adventure for them, even something touristy in your own town
- Get a gift certificate to the best restaurant in town
- Movie passes
- Family adventures
- Performance bonuses
This is something you can bring up in a team huddle. You’ll hear each person shout out something they like to do. Make notes and choose rewards accordingly.
Trust your gut
If you feel dissention in the ranks, take charge immediately. One or two people can bring down half the company. They will create a toxic culture then blame you for it. If you let it continue, don’t be surprised when they all walk out because you let one of them go.
No one ever said, “I should have waited longer to fire that person.”
If you can feel the tension, imagine what the other employees are feeling. No one person, or even five persons, are worth losing a valuable employee who wants to be part of your organization.
I did not know this was a thing until I started reading articles about it. After The Great Resignation hit my company, many of the players offered to stay on until their replacements were hired and properly trained by them. They cited concern for the clients.
Against my better judgment, I allowed some to stay. Their work was not being done. Training was sloppy. Documentation mysteriously disappeared. They had two-hour giggle-fests in the office while I continued to pay salaries for them and their replacements. I put an end to that and on the day they left, they took two more co-workers with them.
When someone resigns, send them home. You are not saving yourself any work by allowing them to stay.
Once the office was free of the employees, the atmosphere immediately lightened. We collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief. I ordered lunch for the staff, and we talked openly about the events leading up to that day. Then, we all banded together, picked up the broken pieces and got to work.
By the end of that first week, I looked back and thought, “This is what a team looks like. THIS is the culture I have been building.”
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Rayanne Buchianico is the owner of ABC Solutions an MSP accounting expert. She is also a PSA consultant and podcaster, M&A expert, author, instructor and speaker, and a board member of the National Society of IT Service Providers. She’s won awards for her work and community involvement from every organization that matters in our industry.