Done with years of micromanaging and productivity concerns, employees want to be “Quietly Managed” in 2024.
Last year saw a whole host of “quiet” trends: Quiet quitting, quiet firing, quiet cutting… but in 2024, those are out. Amid layoff fears and a bleak economic outlook, employees aren’t so eager to “quiet quit.”
Instead of jumping ship to find a workplace that meets all their needs, many are ready to compromise on desired perks, such as remote work.
What they’re asking for in return is simple: to be “Quietly Managed,” where managers take a step back and let employees do their best work without the unnecessary hovering.
Micromanaging is out, ‘Quietly Managing’ is in
Nobody likes a micromanager. But since the pandemic began, micromanaging and “helicopter bosses” have become more common.
The massive rise in remote work had managers scrambling to figure out how to manage teams without being face-to-face, giving way for trends like “productivity paranoia” and fueling distrust between employees and employers.
Even if they didn’t realize it, many managers took on a micromanagement mindset to keep track of employees and ensure productivity, such as having more frequent check-ins. But recent data from Slingshot shows that a hovering manager may be hurting productivity instead of improving it – and employees are itching for a new era of hands-off management.
The effect on productivity
Slingshot’s 2023 Digital Work Trends Report found that although employers tend to rely on frequent check-ins, only 19% of employees agree that more frequent check-ins would make them more productive.
Leaders say they feel compelled to supervise employees more closely when they are not delivering quality work (69%) or hitting deadlines (52%), but employees feel micromanaged when they’re communicating more frequently with their boss, like checking in too often or having unnecessary status meetings.
Employees also reported a negative impact on productivity when they:
- Have too many projects or tasks on their plate (37%)
- Don’t know what their priorities are (25%), and
- Have no set deadlines (17%).
It’s clear that there’s a disconnect between employers and employees. “Employees often feel overloaded, unsure of priorities and deadlines, and afraid to say no to additional work – even when they have too much on their plates already,” said Dean Guida, founder of Slingshot. “And leaders are left scrambling when employees haven’t been focusing on the highest-value task or miss deadlines after taking on too much.”
But when it comes down to it, employers and employees both want the same thing: for employees to do their best work. That’s where a “Quietly Managed” approach comes in.
How you can ‘Quietly Manage’
Even a “quiet” approach to management requires oversight. In fact, employees crave guidance and clear expectations.
According to Slingshot, employees say they would benefit from:
- Clear priorities (42%), and
- Set deadlines (30%).
“Where employees spend their time is where their priorities lie – but this often doesn’t line up with their leaders and the larger goals of the company,” says Guida. “Once teams are aligned on the same goals and objectives, employees are clear on their priorities and expected outcomes and leaders can have peace of mind that the right things are getting done in a timely manner.”
Here are a few do’s and don’ts to quietly manage employees:
- Do ask: What each employee needs to be their most productive self isn’t one-size-fits-all. Maybe some of your employees do thrive off of frequent check-ins – or maybe it’s the antithesis of productivity for them. You won’t know until you ask.
- Don’t assume: Figuring out what works for your workforce requires a back-and-forth conversation, and that conversation needs to be started by managers. Don’t just assume that employees need more oversight when performance is lacking – start a dialogue and get to the root issue before figuring out how to fix it.
- Do be reasonable: Slingshot’s research found that employees thrive off of priorities and deadlines, but going overboard with unmanageable expectations and constant, quick deadlines will have the opposite effect you want.
- Don’t take a “silent” approach: It’s true that employees want to be quietly managed – but taking it too far in this direction – to where quiet management turns completely “silent” – isn’t the right move either. Find a happy medium where employees have enough guidance to stay on track without so much oversight that it becomes overbearing.