I just read an insightful LinkedIn post shared by Amit Nagpal on “quiet quitting”. Having worked for GE and a couple of India-based companies I lived the long work hours, and excessive travel schedules. For example, the tagline for one of the Indian companies I worked for was simply “What Business Demands”. (Where are the people?) I am grateful for all I learned a for the really fantastic people I worked with. Yet not a supporter of schadenfreude, I appreciate (and have a bit of envy for) the change newer generations can experience. They may avoid this chaotic work style and being away from family far too much. Yet I am too long in the tooth, and too proud to let go of doing whatever it takes to deliver what I promise. And to maintain a high sense of urgency for every one of my customers. And no one has to give up their strong work ethic. Just reflect a bit before committing years of your life before knowing why.
My leadership style was always to act as one team, without hierarchy, but yet to take one on the chin for the team as needed. To energize and motivate the team, yet stop to listen to diverse ideas and encourage everyone on the team to tell me when “I was being stupid”. And I had a simple metric I asked my team to perform to. Deliver what you promise. I made it clear that I did not care how many hours they worked, how often they came into the office, or if they needed time off for family. Just deliver what you promised. That was it.
As much as I loved the teams I worked with throughout my career, the guilt and sorrow of not being home with my family tore at my heart. Traveling and working in countries around the globe always had me thinking how much more fun it would be if I could share this with my wife and daughters. And when that was possible we made it happen. There were weekend stay-overs on US trips and Puerto Rico, and a two-week trip to India.
Back then quiet quitting would have been dealt with simply by “Racking and Stacking C performers” and bringing in their replacements. The COVID Pandemic was a wake-up call. It gave people the time to reflect on what is important in this finite life. And as the pendulum swings, it will open opportunities for those still willing to endure a chaotic work schedule. What will evolve is a new sense of work ethic. I am curious how all this will play out. And I am hopeful it will end with positive change where both business and people are valued, and the quality of life is improved.