Loud Quitting With Amy Leschke-Kahle of ADP
In this episode of the RecruitingDaily podcast, William Tincup interviews Amy Leschke-Kahle, Vice President of Performance Acceleration at the Marcus Buckingham Company and ADP company. They discuss “loud quitting”, a term used to describe employees who leave their jobs in a more vocal and public way than traditional quiet quitting. The conversation also touches on the importance of engagement and discretionary effort in the workplace.
Listening Time: 23 minutes
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As the VP of Performance Acceleration at TMBC I can honestly say that I love my job. I get to help organizations activate their talent move the needle on employee engagement and performance. I combine 25 years of practitioner experience with the lessons I've learned at some of most respected organizations in the world. The result? A unique point of view I feel obsessed to share. Every day, I bring TMBC’s ground-breaking research to life by making it real inside each client’s unique environment.
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Loud Quitting With Amy Leschke-Kahle of ADP
William Tincup: [00:00:00] `This is William Tincup and you are listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Today we have Amy on from adp. She’s been a she’s been on the podcast several times. You’ve probably already heard of her, but our topic is loud quitting, and when this first kind of hit my radar, I couldn’t wait to talk to Amy about it.
So we’re here now. Amy, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and what you do
Amy Leschke-Kahle: at adp? Yeah. Hi. Thanks for having me, William. Sure. I am Amy [00:01:00] Lesky. Carl, I’m the Vice President of Performance Acceleration at the Marcus Buckingham Company and ADP company. And I do a whole bunch of things, including working with our applied research team.
I lead our professional services team, helping clients make work better, and I do a couple little things like this, like talking to you. Awesome.
William Tincup: If I see another press release about quiet anything really, it could be it just quiet and then the word after it drives me into the wall. But when we started talking back and forth about loud quitting, I wanted to kinda get your take on this.
So what are what are you seeing? And then what do you mean when we say loud quitting?
Amy Leschke-Kahle: Maybe we should start with the one thing, the term that we, neither one of us like a whole lot, which is that quiet, quitting. Quiet. Yeah. And it like almost doesn’t make a difference what we call it, right?
It’s not new. It’s been happening a long time and personally, I’m really glad that it’s actually become a more open conversation. [00:02:00] And the bottom line with quiet quitting is people taking, maybe, I’m gonna say like a needed breath once in a while. Are there folks that quiet quit that maybe never put in a reasonable amount of effort?
Of course. And again, that’s been happening a long time. And I think part of the interesting thing about this whole topic is that maybe people should quiet quit more often. Not all the time, not every day, all day, right? But periodically take a little bit of a breath.
William Tincup: So what I used to think of them is engagement was couched up or churched up discretionary effort.
It’s what, it’s five o’clock on a Friday night, you get that email from some customer or something. You can easily handle it in an hour. Let’s say it’s a task that would take you an hour or you could do it over the weekend or you could do it Monday morning. And so as an employee, What do you do?
And that discretionary effort for me, that’s how I always looked at [00:03:00] engagement historically. I’m sure things have changed, but historically I looked at it and said, okay, that employee has that discretionary effort. Do I do it now? Do I feel like doing it now? Do I want to do it now? Do I, or do I do it over the weekend or later in the week, whatever, next week, whatever.
And so I looked at engagement as that employee then saying, yeah, I’ll go ahead and do this right now. Just let’s just take this off the list. Plus I like these folks, this, that, and the other. Now that’s just my warped view of discretionary effort and engagement. So with quiet, quitting. We’re talking about people that basically, they might even love their job.
Maybe they hate their job, maybe whatever, but they’re taking, they need to take a pause. Maybe they’ve gotten in a rut and they want to try something different, and this is their way of quietly changing and doing something different. Even if they don’t know what that thing next thing is.
Amy Leschke-Kahle: Yes, maybe. Okay. I think it could be [00:04:00] a lot of things. Let’s step back to the engagement and discretionary effort thing. Okay. For just a minute, we define engagement as the emotional precursors to extraordinary work. Oh, okay. So if you go to your example of getting an email on a late Friday afternoon, and do I do it now or do I wait till Monday?
Ultimately it’s a judgment call on the employee, and it probably depends, hopefully on what the urgency of the matter is, if it’s urgent. Absolutely Friday night. If it can wait till Monday, maybe. It really just depends. So I think that whole discretionary effort thing has been almost defined poorly or maybe the expect expectations are defined poorly around.
It’s something that we ought to be doing right now and pretty soon everything has become a got to be done right now thing. I think the beautiful thing potentially about quiet quitting in the conversation is giving people the space and the agency to make that decision for themselves.
William Tincup: Got it. So why do that quietly then?
Amy Leschke-Kahle: That is a great [00:05:00] question. I think we actually need to not do it quietly. We’ve put this, created this bubble, if you will, or this unspoken. Norm of work where we’ve got every, everything that comes to us, whether it be in an email or a task or conversation with a boss, whatever it might happen to be as urgent, right?
We live in a world of urgency and the conversation around quiet, quitting, I think actually needs to be louder. We ought to be talking about, Hey, I’m not feeling so great right now about work. I need to take a breath. Team leader, can you help me out with this? And it goes back to those conversations.
You and I may have even talked about this William around wellbeing and wellness and burnout and resilience and like all of that whole conversation. We talk about it in the context of things like this and podcasts and articles and headlines, right? And HR folks talk about it a lot. But when you pull it into the day-to-day real [00:06:00] world of work and into the flow of work that we’re all doing, it’s really got to be that one-on-one conversation with team leaders about how you’re actually feeling about work.
And it, we’ve gotta make it okay to talk about it. We talk about it at a kind of a global level or at a macro level, but it’s time to pull that down to almost like a nano level, like in the context of a single employee’s work. We’ve gotta make it okay to talk about it one-on-one.
William Tincup: So two things. One is if it’s the word urgent, but we could use a lot of different synonyms for the word urgent, right?
It’s if everything’s urgent, nothing is urgent, right? So if so, if it’s just like the boy who cries wolf, right? If every email is urgent, if every Slack message is urgent, then how do they decide? That’s one, two. Is you, one of the things that you’re describing as vulnerability is a team member.
Then having the space, as you called it, as you said it earlier, called it earlier than to then say, I’m[00:07:00] overwhelmed. I’m not at a good place. I need a break. I don’t feel good. Whatever. Whatever it is. That’s vulnerability. And in the. The manager or the other team members then filling in and helping out.
Like it’s a true team effort of but again, true teams I think the best teams are the ones that are the most vulnerable with each other or can be the most vulnerable with each other cuz there’s trust. So first of all I do, I have that you, you study this stuff for a living, so that’s just, what do you see when it comes to vulnerability and trust?
Amy Leschke-Kahle: Yes. Without trust, the team falls apart. We know this, again, we see it in the data, it’s really clear. But one of the things that we found that I think is really interesting around trust at work is oftentimes we interpret it as being the soft, fluffy very almost too open kind of a thing, if you will.
So part of the. It’s [00:08:00] not even a trick. It’s like part of the next practice around that is frequency. And I know you and I have talked about this before about the power of frequency and the power of team leaders and team members connecting really frequently that frequency builds trust. The more you connect with someone.
The more trust that you’re going to build, particularly if that relationship is one in which the kind of symbiotic, right? You’re talking to me, we’re talking about the things that are most important at work and oh, by the way, are you doing okay? Yep. That kind of a simple cadence of, and we found from the data that weekly is the magic cadence.
I know most managers, people, leaders, bosses, are gonna say, oh, I can’t afford to do that weekly, or I do it all the time. I talk to my people every week. The thing is that we’re often missing the intentionality of the conversation. So if the team leader has the, again, manager, whatever term you wanna use, if the intentionality needs to be, [00:09:00] what’s the most important work do you need to get done?
Do you need anything from me and how are you feeling? So that intentionality of those three simple questions are not only the thing that builds trust, but it also helps accelerate work and performance and quality. All of the things that we’re trying to create at work come from that power of frequency and that kind of simple conversation.
So it’s not just a drive by, it’s not once a quarter, it’s really light. Touch cadence of what are your priorities? How can I help? How are you feeling? So once we build that trust, hopefully fingers cross, we are more likely to, if that happens, people hopefully are a little bit more open and trusting with their team leader to say, ah, what, can I’m really need an afternoon just to decompress, or, I’d love to take the afternoon, or I’d love to take this morning to go do something else, or can I work on something else?
We’ve gotta be able to have that conversation. [00:10:00] And talking about it at an org level is great, but we’ve gotta be able to pull it down to the team leader level.
William Tincup: So you put those three, there’s three questions out there in a particular order. Dumb question alert. Was that done purposely or can you use any of the, basically the questions of the questions?
Can you use ’em in any type of order or do you. Suggest a way for leaders and again, leaders, team members, peers being able to talk to it to one another. Is there a way? Is that the, is there one order that’s better than another, I guess is the
Amy Leschke-Kahle: question? Not that we found, right?
I think whatever folks are comfortable with, and by the way, if your team leader, if your boss, your manager, isn’t asking you those questions every week, one of the things that you can do as an individual is to answer those three questions for yourself, first and foremost, because taking a little bit of a break and giving your chance to reflect on a previous week, perhaps in the near term coming up, maybe the next five days is really helpful.
Just even if you don’t share it with [00:11:00] anybody. But then telling your team leader that even if they don’t ask you, is a really powerful and easy way to start that interaction. Like we don’t have to wait for managers to ask us. I don’t know why we think that they should start that conversation. We can start it just as well as anybody else can.
You, I was
William Tincup: gonna ask you about that is terms of responsibility and and again, for the leaders that are listening to this and the employees that listeners, I guess we’re all employees on some level, again if your leader isn’t great at this, that’s gone. That just shifts the, that just shifts the responsibility of okay, here’s what’s going on.
And again, being over communicative transparent, letting people know what you need that’s not a bad thing.
Amy Leschke-Kahle: No, and it’s not hard. I, and you think about team leaders and most team leaders, most managers, a lot of us anyway, become managers because it was the only way that we could make more money, get a better job title.
And so we always have to remember a lot of them [00:12:00] really aren’t that good at being a manager. But when you simplify it down to the critical few things, it’s something anybody can do. I can do it. You can do it. I. Do it quite frankly every week with my team, and it’s easy enough that even if you’re not a great manager, or hopefully you’re at least proficient, but anybody can do that and that power of frequency.
You said one more thing, William, that’s really important that we’ve also seen a bit of in our research doing with real people doing real work in the real world, is that I often call it your most important person at work, your m i p. So if you’re not getting that kind of attention from a team leader, find a trusted team member, somebody who you work with frequently.
Find someone that you can have that brief conversation with, just to let them know most important work that you’re doing, if you need help from somebody and how you’re feeling about work.
William Tincup: This is probably a, maybe a generational thing. Maybe Covid impacted some of this. The [00:13:00] phone and Zoom, are they the same to, to some managers as email and
Amy Leschke-Kahle: Slack?
Yes, we have found that modality right is not a critical path, right? To being able to have great, we call them check-in conversations, but being to being able to have a great check-in. And it works of course, differently for different team leader, team member combinations, but we. Again, reading the headlines and some of them, which I’ve written like, don’t let that be a barrier.
I think we sometimes look for reasons for something to not work. Try different things, find out what works for you, run an experiment. This is so easy to do. And if we go back to the topic today around loud, quitting. We as individuals owe it to ourselves as well as our organizations and our teams to share how things are going at work if we need something.
So we actually need to be loud. We shouldn’t be doing that quietly. We should use our [00:14:00] voices, if any of you are parents or grandparents. We should be using our inside voices. We should make them outside voices, not in a obnoxious way, right? But just in a. Grown up way.
William Tincup: I wonder if sometimes employees, they either feel like they’re gonna bother their, the, their team leader or whatever, the boss, whatever and so they go to other peers.
I’ve seen this at, I’ve seen this happen in places I’ve worked at where, one person doesn’t know how to solve a problem and instead of asking their boss like, okay, how do I solve this problem? They go and ask peers. And so it goes around five or six different conversations when they could have, they either felt like they couldn’t ask their boss or that it was gonna be bothersome, or that maybe it was implied that they should have already known how to do something.
Again, getting back to that. Trust and vulnerability and stuff like that. It’s like I see the conversations happening, but I see ’em happening sideways. Not necessarily [00:15:00] vertical, if
Amy Leschke-Kahle: yeah, I know exactly what you mean. And it’s one of those things I think as an individual that we need to take a little bit of responsibility for.
But if you’re not comfortable talking to your leader for whatever reason, it could even be just something like human, like bad chemistry, right? At least you’re reaching out to someone, but hopefully like you get in practice of doing. The weekly ritual or the weekly practice of, Hey, here’s what I’m working on.
Just so you know, can be a quick email, quick text, just so you know, here’s what I’m working on this week. I need this from you, or I’m all good and I’m feeling fine. So that practice makes it easier when those times do come when you do need something and we, we have to own it as individuals. And yes, sometimes it’s hard and sometimes we don’t like our leaders or our managers or we don’t get along with them or we have bad chemistry.
Maybe we can make a little bit better chemistry. I don’t know. But humans are prickly that way, right? So maybe in that case I would say email, text. Don’t talk to [00:16:00] them. Do something. Take advantage of the technology you have sitting right in front of you. Use that.
William Tincup: Leave a voicemail. You’re good.
And anything. Yeah. What does any of this, these check-ins the way that we were thinking about ’em, does any of this get documented? Or should it, I guess is probably a more appropriate way of thinking of it is should any of this be documented or is this just like you said, next level practices and thinking about things and being, learning from what we learned from the pandemic, being more empathetic in our communications, but also communicative and what’s holding us back, what we need from others, et cetera.
Like all that sounds great to me now. The jaded part of my personality then goes does this end up in performance management somehow?
Amy Leschke-Kahle: I love that question, and you are on a really important kind of line of inquiry, which is if we start documenting and using [00:17:00] these check-ins, if you will, as a tool for hr, they no longer become this trusted back and forth, this trusted dialogue between hundred percent the leader and a team member.
William Tincup: Hundred percent could.
Amy Leschke-Kahle: Our strong recommendation is to use them as that one-on-one tool, not one to team leader, one to team leaders. Team leaders. Team leader, right? One to HR for people to go check up on me.
That’s why we don’t call it a check up. We call it a check in. So having documentation, by the way, is helpful from a personal level, from an individual level. As a team leader level, because I can go back in time and find out what, find out what did I work on three weeks ago because I can’t remember.
So it can be helpful. But as HR practitioners and leaders, I think we need to think long and hard about who gets to see that information. And the way to start that conversation in our organizations is to say, what is the intent of this? Is the intent, a [00:18:00] compliance tool? Is the intent a performance documentation tool?
And if the answer is no, first and foremost, we really want this to be a productivity tool. We need our employees to be doing more, better work, higher quality, more productive, more efficient, more effective, then let’s focus on that as the primary way to do that, and don’t instill. I don’t even know what to call it.
Don’t instill compliance practices that are gonna be countered productive to the thing we’re actually trying to get. Do that in some other way
William Tincup: or not. But I absolutely am glad I asked the question because I, the separation of church and state for the, for me is historically performance management has been a tool for management.
To get more yield out of employees, basically, we’re gonna under the guise of letting you know what you’re doing wrong or what you could do better. You’re gonna go do those things. It’s documentation, it’s compliance. If we need to let you go, we’ve got a paper trail, et cetera. It’s not [00:19:00] really for the employee.
It’s never, it wasn’t set up that way, at least historically, to be for the employee. It’s, it can be for the employee, but not. Not really. No, it’s a myth. It’s,
Amy Leschke-Kahle: it’s it’s a complete myth that performance management, as most of us have experienced it at work, yeah. Somehow helps people perform better.
No, it’s a total myth. I think maybe we started, someone started that to make team members, to make employees feel a little bit better about the process. In fact, the bottom, it’s all counterproductive. So if you go into a traditional performance review conversation, there’s two questions that an employee wants to know.
A direct report wants to know it’s how much money am I gonna get and am I gonna get fired? It’s two questions. And yet we go through all the things Now that doesn’t help me perform better at all. It’s, yeah it’s really a myth about work. And the thing again that we see in the data incredibly clearly, if you wanna move the needle on performance, if you wanna help people do [00:20:00] more, better work, then pay more attention to them.
That’s it. Like it’s that simple. Yeah. There’s all kinds of other things I’m sure. But the one that we have found to be most powerful is just attention. Pay attention as a human. Please pay attention to me. Care.
William Tincup: I dunno. Just
Amy Leschke-Kahle: do that about that. Wow. That’s novel William.
William Tincup: Two questions are probably similar to you but it’s about ex one, the employee expectations.
What have you seen there as it relates to this? Do they do the expectations? I’m not gonna say have they changed? I’m assuming they have changed because of covid, but the ex of employee ex expectations, but also the ex of employee experience as it relates to loud quitting.
Amy Leschke-Kahle: What we’re seeing from an employee expectation perspective, the impact of not only covid, but of a lot of things, it is quiet, quitting and or loud quitting.
But that’s the expectation. If you’re [00:21:00] not gonna pay attention to me, bye. If you’re not gonna help me do more, better work, you know what? Fine. I’m not gonna give it to you. Or. It is a burnout. I’m so burned out from continually giving this organization my all. I just can’t do it anymore.
So we see that happening in terms of expectations and it’s not unreasonable. In fact, that’s why I think we should be louder about it for employees to expect that. The most important people to me at work, my team leaders, maybe key colleagues even are paying really frequent attention to me. Around the best of me.
I think that’s a really good thing, and we should be really loud about that from an employee experience. The other ex, from an employee experience perspective, one thing we can do as practitioners is really take a little bit of a step back and say, how can we simplify all of the things that we have asked employees and managers to [00:22:00] do over the last several decades that quite frankly aren’t returning?
The productivity and quality that we thought that they would. We just talked about performance management as one of those things. Performance review is the annual review process, right? But there’s all kinds of other things you could put in that bucket as well. So what I see, it’s really a two path approach, which is one, how can we simplify a lot of the burden, quite a lot of it, emotional burden, but also time that we’ve put onto managers in particular, but employees as well.
So that’s one path. And then the second path is what are those practices, those habits that we know from the data and the research actually do make a difference. Weekly check-ins is a great place to start that. And technology is a great thing to use to remind us to do that. That’s awesome as well. But simplify.
And then instill those practices that actually make a difference. And if you’re, that’s not happening in your world as an employee. You [00:23:00] should be loud. You should be really loud.
William Tincup: Drops my walks off stage. Amy, thank you so much for your time. This has been wonderful. And we can unpack a couple of these things and our next podcast.
So thank you again for your
Amy Leschke-Kahle: time. Thanks so much for having me,
William Tincup: William. Absolutely. And thanks for everyone for listening. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.