Five leader commitments ensure that an autonomous environment exists and supports employees in their autonomy. They include:

1 . To support employee growth planning, goals, and relevant work.

2 . To recognize and reward employees and good work.

3 . To continuously and diligently communicate to ensure readiness, relevance, reinforcement, and reflection on current work.

4 . To support decision making to be as close as possible to the issue at hand.

5 . To ensure that resources to support autonomy exist and persist.

Quiet quitting is the emerging phenomenon of employee disengagement, essentially quitting on the job. What strategies do high-impact leaders deploy to motivate themselves and those around them to move from quiet quitting to quiet committing? Because, at its core, there is no change without commitment. Commitment to change ideas. Change beliefs. Change perspectives. Change routines, rituals and boundaries. Organizations change one commitment at a time. One leader at a time. As part of our series about “Quiet Committing: The Top Five Commitments High Impact Leaders Make & Keep To Themselves Daily”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jane Frankel.

Frankel founded The Art of Performance in 2007 to advocate for lifelong learning. She built this advocacy throughout her career as a teacher, organizational design specialist, and program developer in both the private and public sectors. Her focus is on building 21st century innovation and learning cultures through workforce and customer engagement, strategic alliances, internships, and innovation planning. Frankel holds an MS degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of PA and a MS in Education from Temple University, both in Philadelphia, PA. She authored The Intentional Mindset: Data, Decisions, and Your Destiny in 2023 to help people understand the power of their mindsets to build agency, control, and autonomy to assuredly reach their desired destinies.

Thank you for making time for our visit. What was the first job you had, and how did that job shape the leader you are today?

Thank you for inviting me to this interview. I am glad to share some thoughts on the importance of mindset in determining one’s actions, decisions, and destiny. These insights became apparent to me during my first job as a teacher in the inner city neighborhood called Strawberry Mansion in Philadelphia. It was soon very clear that my students had a very different mindset than my own in the classroom. At the most basic level, many of the students were focused on day to day survival and had not yet acquired the skills needed to work at the 5th grade level of reading and math. My misplaced enthusiasm was based in taking the students to new heights of learning which they couldn’t appreciate at the time. You might say that they had quit the learning thing due to their frustrations and I was not yet equipped to help them with making the commitment needed to learn.

I realized that your customers are to be accommodated and you can only serve those customers if you meet them where their mindsets are and help them along to attain a mindset that matches your own. But this also means that you have to be willing to change your own mindset to one that is matchable to your customers’ mindsets to engage them in a common pursuit.

Further, I developed the belief that people are best served when they take responsibility for their own learning. This autonomy includes building the agency and control of one’s inquiry, actions, and decisions. Who knows you better or will serve you better than yourself?

We’re talking about quiet quitting in this series. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a job you decided to quit?

The most important lesson that I have learned is that your autonomy is dependent on others as much as it is an independent endeavor. One has to know one’s own mindset and what actions and decisions will deliver on one’s goals. Keep in mind that other’s mindsets are guiding their actions and decisions, as well. Therefore, navigating a meeting of the mindsets is the only avenue to long-term success.

Hitting roadblocks because I had different intentions than my employer led me to give up on a few jobs, as opposed to quiet quitting. Had I been able to create a better path of autonomy by matching my own mindset with the mindset of my employers, I would have definitely committed to the work I was doing of developing learning and culture programs. It was work that I really valued but was derailed by a mismatch of my mindset and those of my employers. Mindsets dictate engagement and commitment when they are aligned.

Employee Engagement is top of mind for most organizations. How do you define an engaged employee?

An engaged employee feels like a partner. Their needs are satisfied with compensation, work space and logistics, and supervisor access. They are also motivated by a sense of worth and trust from their employer that their decisions are credible and valued and that their employer is invested in their growth. And employees are responsible that their work and decisions are accountable to their employer’s expected returns and goals. As the company grows, so does the employee expect to grow. This is a partnership.

Employers need to have a priority on creating the environment that encourages and supports employee growth, autonomy, and decision making. This management infrastructure supports employee autonomy with continuous direction setting, accessibility of data and information to support inquiry, reflection sessions, recognition, rewards, and protocols and practices that support an autonomous mode of work. Employees are accountable for using that infrastructure to make decisions that lead to expected results.

Say more about your Employee Engagement portfolio. What’s working? What’s not working? And what are you piloting now to address the Quiet Committing trend?

This engagement portfolio is intended to build employee self-confidence, self-sustainability, and self-responsibility for decision making. When employees feel confident that their employer is interested in their growth and well-being, they are more likely to match that commitment to their employers with high level work and results. Most importantly, employers’ trust enables employees to make good decisions that will reach those results.

Employees are accountable to develop a personal profile that includes a description of their goals, values, beliefs, and mode of work. This is further detailed with their skills, interests, strengths, and a hierarchy timeline of goals that will lead to their ultimate legacy and destiny. This profile is checked periodically and revised as situations change. It is also available for all other employees to reference when looking for knowledgeable and available resources for project work.

Employers gain from this sense of confidence since employees are their most valuable and treasured asset. They represent the competitive edge that competitors cannot match. A technical services company in Philadelphia has a goal of making sure that their customers never work with anyone else due to their outstanding customer engagement and services. Their employees make sure that customers feel this engagement and service.

As goes the leadership, so goes the team. How do you hold leaders accountable for their own level of engagement?

Engagement is supported by transparency. When leaders and employees all have the same expectations, mindset, and rules, engagement happens. When this common platform is defined and upheld through open discussion, protocols, and practices, leadership transfers to all employees since they feel responsible to meet the expectations and the mindset of the company.

Leaders demonstrate their engagement when they follow the systems that they have set up to manage the company and its employees. They further demonstrate their commitment to their engagement by trusting employees with the decision making necessary to do their assigned jobs.

Leaders can create seven conditions within their organizations to demonstrate their leadership and engagement in company and employee growth. They include:

  1. Organizational mindset and narrative are defined and shared, including performance and learning goals and a standardized mode of work.
  2. Mindset awareness and alignment are required and supported.
  3. A digital nervous system is available for data and information analysis for alignment of mindsets, global and local trends and events, future-state potential opportunities, and workflow.
  4. Confidence-building, inquiry, and learning orientation are provided through a personal profile and a learning system structure that guides autonomy and decision making.
  5. Recognition and rewards are earned by new value creators/contributors and publicized.
  6. Intrapreneuring for new ideas is supported and reinforced by an Innovation team.
  7. Management activity is balanced situationally, as needed, with satisfiers and motivators to support individual and organizational growth initiatives.

The first phase of the pandemic ushered in the phenomenon called The Great Resignation, where employees left organizations to pursue greater meaning and purpose. Then came The Great Reshuffle, where employees left organizations to pursue promotions, pay and perks. Now we’ve entered a third phase, Quiet Quitting, where employees are deeply disengaged. What do you believe to be the key drivers of Quiet Quitting?

Due to the 2020 pandemic causing chaos and complexity, along with the 21st century acceleration of technology, climate change, and globalization, employees can be overwhelmed. This situation also allowed employees to recognize that they were not in control of their lives as many lost their jobs or wanted to pursue new meaning or purpose for themselves. They have developed a new sense of vision and mission for themselves that they want matched by their employers. Their goals are balanced among social causes and their own achievements and they want to share those goals and work with their employers.

These employees came to realize that a lack of autonomy in the workplace was demoralizing and crippling in an age of unlimited resources and opportunities as we have in the 21st century. With acceleration and its availability of resources, employees who found it feasible struck out on their own for better situations that they could control. Today, employees want to chart their own paths aa they see the value in controlling their own work, environments, and destiny.

All that said, many employees may have found a new direction impossible to pursue, either monetarily or from personal fears. If that is the case, then quiet quitting is a band-aid of a solution to their dilemma of lack of control. They still have whatever security they have with their current jobs and didn’t need to take risks. People need security and often have to prioritize it above their general satisfaction and motivation in their work. It may be the easiest way out of a difficult situation, but certainly not a fulfilling idea. It may even lead to pent up frustration and anger with an employer, thus quiet quitting.

The other possibility is that some people do not feel the need for growth and autonomy. They are content with the status quo and this can appear to be quiet quitting. They are satisfied with their jobs but not motivated to grow or create new value.

What do you predict will be the next phase in the evolution of the employer / employee landscape?

An increase in contracting work would come to mind, along with contractor training in autonomous work skills. Autonomous worker independence and partnering with employers fulfills the needs of both workers and employers. Workers will be able to pursue interesting projects and causes as they choose. Employers will be able to contract necessary work with less resources than those needed to support autonomous employees.

This contracting approach shifts the burden of growth and development to individual workers away from employers. It also enables workers to charge higher fees (than salary would provide) for their selected work projects based on their expertise.

What leadership behaviors need to evolve to improve employee engagement in a sustainable way?

Leaders should think of employees as customers. They are stakeholders in company initiatives as are external customers. When employees feel trusted and accountable as decision makers, they are engaged in their work and the well-being of the company, as well as in themselves.

An evolution to this state of trust comes with a focus on listening to each other, employees to employers and employers to employees. Regularly scheduled discussions and reflections that are safe and well-intended build trust and credibility. Resulting accommodations further this trust.

The environment that supports trust and autonomy for employees is essential for building and sustaining employee engagement. It recognizes and rewards autonomous work well done.

Change requires commitment and happens one choice at a time. What are the top five commitments you make and keep to yourself daily that have a material impact on those you lead?

Five leader commitments ensure that an autonomous environment exists and supports employees in their autonomy. They include:

1 . To support employee growth planning, goals, and relevant work.

2 . To recognize and reward employees and good work.

3 . To continuously and diligently communicate to ensure readiness, relevance, reinforcement, and reflection on current work.

4 . To support decision making to be as close as possible to the issue at hand.

5 . To ensure that resources to support autonomy exist and persist.

What’s the most effective strategy you’ve discovered to get back on track when you break a commitment you’ve made?

Acknowledge the break and start to investigate the cause, either within yourself or through others. Once the cause has been identified, take tangible measures to eliminate the cause. Often the cause will be mindset related, such as a difference in goals, values, beliefs, or mode of work expectations. Sometimes mindset components will need to be modified or the actions they drive may have to change. This analysis will lead to full understanding of your actions and decisions.

As mindset components can be unconscious, the mindset cause will have to be brought into the conscious mind so that it can be eliminated to avoid the break from happening again. A 5 Whys approach to inquiry will help to identify unconscious thinking.

Thank you for sharing these important insights. How can our readers further follow your work?

The Intentional Mindset: Data, Decisions, and Your Destiny is my recently published book (Business Expert Press). It contains these ideas and insights along with structures for understanding your mindset and altering it as needed to propel you to success.

There are also workshops available to help build insights into your mindset and its ability to derail or propel your success. Contact me at [email protected] for additional information.

We wish you continued success and good health!