The employer I work for, the branch office for a large, national corporation, is considered “the best” in our industry. They may be the best for clients, but they’re not the best for employees. Our branch manager hires talented employees, works us hard, and pays us as little as possible.
I’m cynical now, but when I first landed my job, I had stars in my eyes. I believed I’d go far, and perhaps land a regional position for our corporation. The branch manager, who I work directly under, promised me a lot. I soon learned this was his style. He knows how to make promises, but not how to keep them.
I worked my heart out for the first nine months and then realized the branch manager was taking advantage of me. I hung on, because moving to a different company would be a step down. After several more months, I looked around for a better job. While I found other jobs, I didn’t find another that fit my work/life balance as nicely. I have almost no commute. I like my coworkers.
I even like the work I do, or at least I used to, until I realized that when I really put muscle into projects, my manager took credit for what I did. While clients appreciate me, it doesn’t help me move “up” in my company. The only position I can move into is held by the branch manager, and he’s not going anywhere. Even if he leaves, no one above him in the corporate leadership knows what I can do, which ends my dream of a regional position. . My manager takes credit for the products I create and for the accolades my clients give me. I tried blind copying some of the corporate managers above him on a few project emails. That got back to my manager who let me know those above him considered blind copying “troublesome” behavior. I won’t try this again, nor can I go to our corporate HR manager. She’s a close friend of our branch manager.
I’m at the point of “why bother?” I do the minimum, which is enough to keep my job. I like leaving work at five p.m. and not bringing work home. I admit it feels satisfying to turn the tables on my manager, who can’t use me anymore to promote his image with our corporate leadership. For a while, I contemplated starting a small business on my own time but haven’t been able to get started. I read one of your articles on quiet-quitting, https://bit.ly/3R4dysh, and don’t think I’m alone in how I feel or the truth that many employees don’t work hard because they work for career-stifling managers. I’d like your thoughts.
Stop hurting your career to win a gotcha battle with a manager you disrespect. You’ve successfully rationalized yourself into stagnation. Here’s the truth you need to grapple with. You’ve grown accustomed to the addictive pleasure of doing little, but that’s like eating cotton candy. While it tastes yummy on the way in, you’re left with little other than sticky fingers. Meanwhile, life passes you by as you paddle in place.
You deserve better. “Quiet quitting,” or not going above and beyond because it’s not rewarded, doesn’t bring happiness or success. At its best, it gives you the ability to enjoy your non-work life, but like other passive-aggressive tactics, it can kill your spirit and dreams.
Re-engage and take back control of your career by setting goals. Think back to what you wanted a year and a half ago when you took this job. What do you want to achieve in your career? What are you good at? Start doing those activities again. Create forward movement.
I don’t buy the stories you tell yourself, that you’re stuck working for this manager or employer. Reach beyond your manager, to clients who’ll learn your value and might offer you a job. Create thoughtful LinkedIn posts that achieve visibility with national employers that might offer you a remote position. Your employer might be the leader in the industry in your community, but is there an up-and-comer competitor? Could you get hired by an “Avis, we’re #2, we try harder” and leave your “we’re Hertz, we’re #1”? Can you make your current job a stepping stone and not a career-ender?
(c) 2023 Lynne Curry
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3 thoughts on “Recovering from Quiet Quitting: Don’t let your career dreams die”
The writer says nothing about her network. This is the time to engage other people – including developing a closer relationship with clients, join associations, etc. to learn about other opportunities. Building a career isn’t just about what you do on the job. It’s a whole process that goes beyond the work you produce.
This is a thought-provoking counter to the “quiet quitters” out there. I understand the poster’s anger at being overlooked and seeing the boss take credit for their projects and accomplishments. My life partner worked decades in a job where his work was overlooked, as was his knowledge, understanding, and real work to help clients comply with regulations while keeping the lid on difficult situations. They retired, and the unappreciative boss realized then what she had not been giving recognition for. Then a couple of years later, the boss died [ a truly sad death that everyone was unprepared for], and the remaining and replacing workers, all under-qualified and/or quiet-quitters, are at sea. He’s still very welcome. Follow Lynne’s advice here! Keep working, being creative, making good relationships with clients. [That was my life partner’s strategy, too. It returns energy, even if it doesn’t end the other problems.] Maybe you’ll be able to “network” into another job with a client, maybe not. But you’ll keep your self-respect, and hopefully you’ll be able to hang onto your mental agility and creativity and problem-solving abilities.
Awesome comment, Susan, and great story about your life partner, and you’re right, it returns energy and provides rewards in mental agility, problem-resolving and self-respect.