The most effective ways to manage an employee who is unmotivated and mentally checked out

 The concept of quiet-quitting has been around for a while, but it gained attention on TikTok as a suspected diagnosis for many employees. The idea is that a quiet-quitter does the bare minimum at work to justify their compensation, rather than going above and beyond. However, according to Leigh Thompson, a professor of management and organizations at Kellogg, pandemic-related stressors may make employees feel disengaged, but this isn't necessarily the same as actively checking out. Disengagement is treatable, and Thompson offers strategies for re-engaging employees.

If you suspect an employee is quietly quitting, Thompson recommends considering the possibility that you could be misreading their behavior. Meet with the employee and ask what engages and energizes them, and if the issue is work-related, consider whether you might be to blame. As a leader, your mood affects others, so make sure you're not emitting negativity. 

To reset your team, Thompson recommends co-authoring a team charter that answers three questions: What is the team's purpose, what are everyone's roles and responsibilities, and what are the norms and ground rules everyone must follow? Collaboration is key to the charter's success, and it helps eliminate suspicions that corrective action is targeting someone specific. 

Once your team has agreed on a final charter, create an environment where people feel accountable. Hold short meetings to check in with members of your team, and have regular gatherings where teammates can announce what they've accomplished. Finally, show people the impact of their work. People tend to be more engaged when they know that the hours they put in are making a difference. If your efforts to reenergize a disengaged employee fail, they may self-eject from an engaged workplace.

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