Preventing Quiet Quitting with Shaara Roman

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Are you losing your best employees without even knowing it? Join us as Shaara Roman shares her insights on how to prevent “quiet quitting” and create a healthy workplace culture that promotes employee happiness and engagement.

Takeaways We Learned from Shaara…

Be curious.

Curiosity helps leaders to be open-minded, ask questions, learn more, and explore situations to find the right solutions. This allows leaders to impact relationships positively.

Dig deeper.

Leaders who are experts in a particular area should avoid assuming they know the answer to everything. They should dig deeper to explore the possibility of multiple right ways to go.

Curiosity builds connections.

Being curious helps in making great connections with people. Curiosity allows you to better understand others, even if you disagree with them.

Unhappy employees impact everyone.

Moods are contagious, and a person’s energy can impact those around them. Therefore, leaders must take responsibility and lean into the situation to find out why the person is unhappy.

Don’t make assumptions.

When someone is unhappy, it’s essential to figure out what’s causing their unhappiness, and leaders should avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. They should dig deeper to find the root cause of their unhappiness.

Space for innovation and creativity.

Leaders should help employees leverage their strengths and create an environment that allows them to be innovative and creative. This can help cure their unhappiness, and ultimately improve their morale, and that of the entire team.

Transparency is important.

It’s crucial to be transparent. A leader should point out the impact that the employee’s behavior is having on others and have an open conversation about it, depending on the relationship they have with the employee.

Different generations have different work styles.

Talking to people from different generations and understanding where they’re coming from can help create a more inclusive culture.

About Shaara Roman

Shaara Roman is the founder and CEO of The Silverene Group, a culture consulting firm that aligns people, strategy, and culture to optimize organizational performance. As an award-winning entrepreneur, board member, speaker, author, and former chief human resources officer, Shaara and her team consult with leaders to create healthy workplaces by helping them build inclusive workplace cultures, design effective organizations, and align their company values and people programs to achieve business goals.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome back to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn. Our guest today is Shaara Roman. She is an author, speaker and the founder and CEO of the silver marine group, a consulting firm that aligns people strategy and culture to optimize organizational performance. Shaara, thank you so much for joining us today.

Shaara: Allison, I’m really thrilled to be here. Thank you so much for having me.

Allison: My pleasure. I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. What would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Shaara: Yes, my number one tip for leaders. Really anyone listening is to be curious. 

I think curiosity is important. Because that allows us to be open minded, that allows us to sort of lean into, you know, sort of questioning and learning more and exploring more about an individual or a situation.

And I find that, you know, oftentimes, leaders who have moved up the organization have often moved up because they’re expert in a particular thing.

And so they always shouldn’t say always, they often feel like they know the answer. And so they’re less likely to sort of dig deeper and explore that there might be more than one answer, that is the right way to go or a good way to go. And I think it just helps to impact kind of the relationships that you have with the people that you work with, that you get there in your lives and in your community. So I think curiosity is, is the one tip I would share.

Allison: I love that curiosity is one of my core values personally. And I think it’s the answer to absolutely everything. In making great connections with people, right, like, you know, if I may not agree, but I’m like, super curious, why do you think that just to better understand, so like such a great tip? I love that. The topic of our podcast today is also the title of Shaara’s book, which is The Conscious Workplace: Fortifying Your Culture to Thrive In Any Crisis. And I think that that is a really important topic. And you brought up a point in your book as to why you are only as happy as your least happy employee. And I want you to share more about that under the concept of conscious leader.

Shaara: Yes, so we, you know, we’ve all heard, you know, the old adage of one rotten apples spoils the barrel, right. And, you know, if you think about the fact that certainly pre pandemic, we all work together in a workplace or often work together in a workplace. And our moods are contagious, how we how we show up how we think, right, and so if someone is, and I realized, now, we’re not all in the workplace together, some of some companies have come back, some are hybrids, some are fully virtual, whatever, doesn’t really matter, that energy that that person brings that that sort of visual look, the, the sort of the feeling that they have, the even the way they carry themselves, right, that all just comes through.

And so they can be, you know, unhappiness, that they’re unhappy with their, with their job, they’re unhappy with their manager, or they’re unhappy with something going on in their lives, could be that they’re unhappy, because they’re not being included, because they’re not being their natural talents. And gifts aren’t sort of tapped into whatever that reason is for causing that unhappiness. I think as leaders in an organization, we really need to lean into that sort of going back to my sort of tip up around curiosity, like, why is that person unhappy, don’t make assumptions don’t make, don’t sort of jump to conclusions.

Because ultimately, if they’re unhappy, that is going to spread and create sort of a dip in your morale for everybody. Because it might be that other people have to step in and do work that they’re not doing because they’re unhappy and not doing it.

They’re unhappy because they don’t know how to do it. They aren’t happy because they’re thinking about their, you know, their sick parent, whatever that situation is. Right? It like I said, it does impact everyone.

I think it’s incumbent on us to as leaders to really figure out what’s going on for folks and how we can help them really leverage their strengths and sort of be their full selves and really create that space for them to contribute in ways that allow them to be innovative and creative.

Because oftentimes that is sort of that cure, quote unquote, for them being unhappy, right?

Allison: Is it? Is it okay for a leader to specifically while trying to seek understanding of maybe what’s going on actually point out the impact that it’s having on everyone else, after or first so that there’s an open conversation about it.

Shaara: Part of it just depends on the relationship you have with the person, right. But I think it’s important to be transparent, and not to sort of dance around and sort of pretend like, you’re just asking a question in a disingenuous way. So you know, it could go something like, Hey, Allison, and I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to be yourself. Or, hey, Allison, I wanted to talk to you about, you know, some of the work that you’ve been, you’ve been delivering, let’s sort of talk about, you know, some of the mistakes that I’ve been seeing or the lateness. And, you know, can you tell me a little bit more about what might be going on for you? You know, or it could be a very direct a, Allison, I’ve noticed your demeanor has changed lately? You know, is there anything you’d like to talk to me about? Is there any way I can help you? Is there anything that we can take off your plate? You know, what’s going on for you? I think being straight up and direct is usually the best way? As long as you’re kind as well.

Allison: When we have team members that are in an environment working in an office together, and there’s a lot of assumptions that go with maybe how they’re showing up with their energy, quiet quitting is one of the ones that I know is discussed a lot. What are your tips around? Not judging that as the as the ultimate answer, but then also like how to ensure that that’s not what the underlying action is that’s being taken.

Shaara: So let me just try to understand your question that we are sort of facing that that sort of scenario of quiet quitting. And, and then what was the second part?

Allison: Don’t assume that’s what it is. And then how do you how do you engage them to ensure that you’re moving them if they’re heading in that direction out of that? Right?

Shaara: So I look at quiet quitting. And I know there’s been a lot of talk around this as essentially sort of a new name for people that are disengaged in their in their work, right. So there’s that unhappiness piece, and the unhappiness can be point in time, right? Or it could be this sort of longer thing that’s been going on, that has now really caused an employee to be to be disengaged, and to sort of quiet quit.

I think it goes back to you know, and then there’s the quiet firing, and the quiet hiring and all this sort of quiet stuff that’s happening, which is very much just under the radar and not sort of being really upfront and intentional and engaging with the people that that you’re working with.

If you’re noticing that there’s a pattern, there’s a shift in how that person is showing up the kind of work that they’re contributing, I think it goes back to having a conversation around it.

I also think that there is a bit of a mindset shift that needs to, that needs to happen in that the traits that we valued, you know, 40 50 years ago, even 20 and 30 years ago, when I came into the workforce, are not the traits that are valued in by today’s workforce.

And we are not going to be able to lead organizations still expecting people to show us face time and sort of work themselves to the bone right, you know, put in 60 hours, putting 60, 70 hours a week is not a badge of honor. It’s actually like what’s wrong with you that you can’t manage your work in that time. And why aren’t we having conversations that are bigger around the way the work is structured, the way that we’ve got hierarchy or lack of hierarchy in the organization, like what’s really causing all of that. So it goes back to, you know, not making assumptions about someone not calling them lazy, not sort of saying, Oh, well, I knew I shouldn’t have hired this person because they didn’t have the qualifications, right? But it’s really trying to dig under and say, Why is this and is this happening with just one person on my team? Or is this really a pervasive issue, which is even more dangerous, right, potentially, that there’s that this lack of engagement is now is now spreading or has spread across As my across my team.

Allison: You brought up a very important point that I think under this particular topic is that there’s, there’s been a shift, but there’s also all these different generations that are reflected in the workforce right now. And our workstyles, like, I bring with me my industrial, you know, workstyles, because that’s the way I was raised, I was raised in a manufacturing, not literally, but practically, in a family on manufacturing company. And so it was shiftwork. It was you punch in, you punch out, you, you know, do second shift, do you do you know, all the things that are needed to work yourself to the bone? Right, so that’s my work ethic and things have changed? What guidance would you give to someone listening who may have a different view of work value than maybe their leader and or someone they report to?

Shaara: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I, I know, it can be a really hot topic, right. And so what I say to people is, listen, back in the 80s, and 90s, we used fax machines, to communicate information, right? We couldn’t even imagine a smartphone, right, we couldn’t even imagine a cell phone, let alone a smartphone, and the fact that these Apple or Google or whatever Android devices that we hold, have more power than, than some of the computers. So it’s sort of leaning into that, you know, kind of that curious mindset, again, to sort of say, Just be open to the fact the world has changed.

Just like we’re not using fax machines anymore, we’re not using phones that have a landline, or with the little curly cord attached to the receiver, right, and all of those technological advances, let’s just appreciate and, and sort of be open to the idea that people work differently, that people view the work world in a different way.

And that actually, you know, working ourselves to the bone, so to speak for, you know, 50 60 70 hours, whatever that might have been for the last several decades, has really led to a crisis of burnout in this country and across the world. But that we now are seeing kind of the side effects, right, or the actually not even the side effects, the actual effects of all of that. And so this burnout is not just coming from COVID. And people sort of, you know, being trapped at home and sort of working hours, it’s really come from a systemic way of thinking about our work. And I would just say, you know, invite yourself to think about it a little differently, maybe get more engaged with the people on your team that come from different generations, both those that are, you know, from older generations and younger generations, I think that the way we teach students these days is different, right?

The way we get to work is different. So all of these other things have changed around us. And so we can’t expect that, with the world changing with just our communities, our environment, all of that changing that we would, that people would do work in exactly the same way and have that same work, work ethic, and there’s not just one work ethic, that is the right work ethic. You know, I think we just need to be open to that. So I would, I would say talk to people and understand what they’re coming, what they’re coming from. And at the end of the day, if you’re just if you’re measuring work based on what are your outputs? And are you delivering what I need to be delivered? Why do you then care?

Allison: I think that’s a very important point to make. So just talking about culture in creating an inclusive feeling, instead of a culture. What are some of the things that you believe our different generations need to provide that?

Shaara: Yeah, so, you know, in terms of making people feel included, you know, the Gen z’s, which are your 25 26 year olds, maybe and sort of younger, right? They’re, they’re the ones that are just coming into the workforce. We have to remember that they are tech native. I like to joke that they were born with, you know, an iPad in their hands, right? They know how to sort of manipulate those things. They know how to search for information.

Gen Z are incredibly resourceful and incredibly resilient. And so when they have a question, they go to Google.

In fact, I tell the story often my daughter will was about 12 years old. And she had been sort of texting me all day saying I, you know, I don’t you know, I’m, I really need to talk to you. I’m having some issues we need to talk. So of course, I had all these things that are going through my head like, what is going on right imagining the worst. And I get home and she’s like, Well, I think I’m lactose intolerant. And I have been doing research. And I was I’ve been tracking my symptoms. And I, you know, I searched on Google and I went to WebMD. And I went here, and I went there, and I sort of correlated my symptoms with what I’ve read. I sort of was like, Wait, what just happened? Right? You’re 12, you’re supposed to come to your mom and say, Hey, I’m not feeling well, Mommy can you know, can you help me and then I’m supposed to call the doctor make an appointment and go there. And yet she had done all this research by herself, to figure it out. And I share that because, and lo and behold, she actually is lactose intolerant, right, and we did all the testing.

But the point is that, these this this generation of z’s, in particular, know how to find information. And they have tons of things coming at them through Tik Tok, and YouTube and Instagram, and whatever else, their Snapchat, whatever else they’re on. So we have to recognize that and, and realize that the way they learn the way they work is going to be very different.

And if we sort of put ourselves in their shoes and realize sort of what they have, we can appreciate that they are not going to want to be told what to do. They’re not going to be told how to do what needs to be done. And they need to be given some latitude, right to be able to do that.

The same goes for millennials who are also very tech savvy, maybe not as tech native as the Z’s right. But those folks are at the top end in their mid 40s. And they’re in leadership roles. And so we again, need to recognize that the way they lead is different, but doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. And so we need to give them room to sort of be themselves lean into their leadership styles, lean into their workstyles, let them make mistakes, if it is a mistake, let them learn from that mistake, and use that as opportunities for discussion for Hey, what went, well, what could we have changed, right? As opposed to imposing the same sort of the same way of doing something that may or may not be the way to do it? In today’s world?

So it’s just having that that lens and on the on the flip side, if you’re a younger manager, right, you’re a millennial, let’s say, and you have a baby boomer who’s working for you and isn’t so tech savvy. And I’m making really gross stereotypes here. Right? But or maybe they’re not understanding, you know, why? You know, you’re expecting something in a particular way, it might be Well, hey, let’s pair you up with someone who can reverse mentor you, right? And maybe coach you and teach you something new. And that’s a great skill that you can use to, to take with you wherever you go. So it’s just being, it’s being open, it’s being curious. It’s being it’s sort of giving people space, the psychological safety, to learn to grow to make those mistakes, and, and recognize that there’s many different ways to do things. Yeah.

Allison: In your book, you also talk about why diversity, equity inclusion aren’t enough, unless they’re paired with belonging and impermanence. Can you share your thoughts on that?

Shaara: Yeah.

I like to say that diversity is a fact. And inclusion is an act.

And I like that. Yeah. So we can make a decision to have diversity. Right? And, and yet, and I was just talking to someone actually at lunch today, who said that she got what she thought was her dream job. And the whole time she was there, she felt incredibly awkward. Because she was the only black woman in that organization. And so, you know, I’d have been diversity. I mean, one person is not really diversity, right? But it was one individual. And, and so that’s, that’s a, that’s a fact.

The act of inclusion is actually sort of leaning into some of those behaviors. But when you create a culture of belonging, you’re really sort of creating that space of psychological safety, right that I sort of mentioned earlier, where you can make mistakes Are you do feel included where you can be yourself. So, you know, think about back in the what, in the early, I guess 2000s when millennials started to come into the workforce and had tattoos, and back in the day, certainly when I grew up, if you had a tattoo, which first of all, you never would write, like, if you had a tattoo, you were never going into a corporate job, you would cover it up, right, and now it’s show your tattoos, right, flaunt them, there, there, there aren’t such a big mindset shift.

And so when you’re, when you’re feeling like you belong, you aren’t going to cover up your tattoos, you aren’t going to change the way you do your hair, you’re not going to dress differently, right, you’re going to be able to talk in the dialect that you want to talk in all of those types of things.

So you have to have the diversity isn’t of bringing the people in into the organization, the inclusion isn’t the act of some behaviors, the belonging is really creating that psychological safety for people to be who they are to make those mistakes to, to learn to grow, to contribute to, to ask questions, to not to be penalized, because they said the wrong thing at the wrong time, to the wrong person, right. And then the empowerment at the end of the day, we are all autonomous beings, I mean, even two year olds want to be able to tie their own shoelaces, right, they want to be able to pick out their own clothes, they want to be able to feed themselves. And so that autonomy doesn’t disappear.

As we get older, it just gets stronger. And so this, the idea of empowerment is fostering ownership across your, across the, across your organization that people that are working with you. And ownership doesn’t have to be, you know, stock options, or an employee stock ownership plan or some sort of monetary ownership. Certainly that’s one element of ownership. But ownership comes in how do I make decisions? Can I make a decision, right? It comes in? How do I do this work? When do I do this work? What is the final product sort of looked like? Yes, you’re given, you’re given some boundaries of, hey, it’s due by x date, and you know, you we need to have three of these. But then the rest of it, you can kind of figure out on your on your own right. So you really, if you can foster if you can bring in diverse people, if you can start to inculcate inclusive behaviors, and then you really lean into what does that belonging look like? And then how do I really empower my people to do what they do best, and not pigeonhole them because of their education or lack of education? That’s what’s really going to create thriving organizations.

Allison: At the beginning of this interview, you kind of made a correlation that maybe I thought of it that way. But I haven’t heard so you said, quiet quitting is basically the new way to say disengaged. And so you also brought up in your book? Are your employees simply happy in their roles? Or have they entered into the early stages of quiet quitting? And I guess I would like for you to give some tips on how do you tell the difference? And how do you reengage in not how do you reengage them, but how do you know when they need to be re engaged or engaged?

Shaara: Yeah, I think when you start to see, you know, a drop off in the quality of work, the drop off in maybe even the quantity of work, the drop off, instead of raising your hand to sort of say, hey, I’ll take that on. A shift in mood, a shift in behavior, a shift in maybe not asking questions, right at that, especially that person is someone who does like to ask a lot of questions, a shift in being quiet, those are all signals when someone is not behaving the way they normally behave, that should be sending a signal up to managers say what’s going on here. Right.

And that is a bit of a challenge, because we’ve created organizations where managers quite candidly have way too much on their plates.

Right, they are individual contributors. And they’ve got their own bunch of work that they need to do. And then on top of it, they have five 6 10, however many it is people that they have to manage. And this people management job is this job that happens on the side of their of their job. So that is just not a fair situation that managers are put in, which makes it very hard to really get to know their people and then to get to know the signals of when something is different, right. But it’s we do need to figure that out. But that is what I would say to a manager is that you’ve really got to know your folks and you really got to know how they operate how they Take, what motivates them, what inspires them.

And when some of that stuff starts to shift, then use then you know, hey, wait a second something is going on, you know, sometimes because people physically come into a meeting with, you know, red eyes because they’ve been crying, right? That should be like a huge signal, not in the meeting to say, hey, you know, why? Why do you guys look like that? Sure. But too late to have that conversation with them. So, you know, tips to reengage are sort of tips to sort of it goes back to sort of asking questions, you know, how are you what’s going on? You know, what can we do to help you? You know, you can also do a stay interview, which is, you know, sort of prepared set of questions that you can ask that, hey, how do you really, you know, how are things going with your job? What are things I could be doing better for you as your manager? What’s the most fun project that you’ve worked on recently? You know, if you could sort of design your most ideal week, what would that look like next week? I mean, those are different questions that you can start to ask to get people to open up and start to talk, right? And if they really have to think about the most fun project they worked, and they don’t have an answer for you. That should be a clue. Right? That Wait a second, if this person hasn’t been having fun with their work? What’s going on? You know, those are the types of things I would I would suggest that people start to think about and maybe do.

Allison: Great tips. Shaara, what is the best way for people to connect with you online?

Shaara: Sure. Well, lots of different ways. Probably the easiest is on LinkedIn. So you can look for me there, and it’s Shaara Roman is my first and last name. So you can look me up I’m very easy to find. Second would be my company website, which is the celebrating group. And do you want me to spell that out?

Allison: I will include that in the show notes. And I apologize, say correctly when I introduce.

Shaara: All great. So it’s silver in And then if you’re interested in learning more about the book, and maybe doing a quick little culture quiz on your organization, you can hop over to the book website, which is just my first and last name. So Shaara And you can learn more there and I’m on Twitter and Instagram, but not as active as I am on LinkedIn.

Allison: All right, Shaara, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us today on this topic, and I very much appreciate the time we spent together.

Shaara: Yeah, my pleasure. Allison, thank you so much for having me. It was great to connect with you. Thank you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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