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Some managers deal with disengaged employees head-on, discussing the problem, offering solutions and assistance, and detailing the consequences if the situation doesn’t improve. Other managers take a passive-aggressive approach, intentionally creating a toxic workplace environment to squeeze the employee out by “quiet firing” them.

Managers using this approach take a step back from the employee and basically write them off as a loss. They don’t supply adequate coaching, support or development opportunities. They exclude the employee from important assignments and find ways to isolate them from their peers.

Related article: What Can You Do If You’re Being Quietly Fired?

Quiet firing gets results—but they may not be the ones intended. An employee that was having a fixable problem may become actively disengaged, intentionally “quiet quitting” until another job opportunity comes along. The rest of the team may be negatively impacted as they wonder who will be targeted next. And quiet firing can tarnish a company’s reputation as a good place to work.

Here, Carrier Management has compiled some expert tips to help you create a healthier environment where managers communicate with employees directly rather than quiet firing them.

Feedback, development and recognition.

Quiet firing can happen by accident, when an improperly trained manager fails to help team members perform, develop and feel appreciated for their contributions.

Managers should discuss goal progress and give performance feedback on a regular basis. People need to know what’s expected of them at work and how they are progressing. Otherwise, employees may lose their ability to focus their efforts. When goals don’t feel important or meaningful—or simply don’t get revisited more than once a year—employees may check out. On top of that, when managers fail to have frequent, meaningful conversations about their progress, it leaves employees wondering how they’re doing. They may miss important opportunities to celebrate successes, adjust priorities and ask for needed support. Aim for at least one meaningful conversation with your team members each week. Not all conversations have to be about performance goals. Just talking to team members about their current priorities and providing ongoing coaching creates great ways to connect daily efforts with their goals.

Each employee should have a plan for development and advancement that’s individualized to them. Start by getting a feel for each employee’s aspirations and strengths. Discuss what developmental options will help them excel in their job today based on their goals and what future growth opportunities will help them progress in their careers.

Managers need to provide individualized recognition. The most powerful recognition is timely, specific and authentic. It can be a thank you note, a high five in the hallway, a shout-out at the company meeting. When employees are struggling, it can be hard to find things to praise. But this is a great time for managers to identify smaller wins—and even give informal recognition—to lead employees back to high performance.

Source: “Quiet Firing: What It Is and How to Stop Doing It,” Gallup, Nov. 18, 2022

Make time for a chat.

It’s imperative for direct managers to make a conscious effort to spend individualized time with each team member to help them learn, grow and improve where needed.

Routine stay interviews are a great resource to see how employees are doing in their role. These conversations can help managers discover what motivates their team members, challenges they are facing, how they feel about work-life balance, what would improve their work experience, etc. Other useful tools include employee surveys to take the temperature of the workforce and anonymous feedback forms.

It’s also important that managers receive proper training around how to have difficult conversations, provide honest feedback around why somebody isn’t ready for a promotion or pay rise, and the steps employees need to take to get there.

Source: “6 Signs That ‘Quiet Firing’ Could Be Trending In Your Workplace,” Forbes, Oct. 1, 2022

Don’t give up on employees too soon.

One of the main reasons for quiet firing is that management believes an employee has plateaued or has less potential than peers. As a result, leaders decide not to invest more time or energy into the employee out of the belief that those efforts will not prove worthwhile. Unfortunately, sometimes an employee fails to meet expectations not due to a lack of passion or skill but rather a need for a different management style or level of support. Often, employees move on to other jobs and perform better under the guidance of more capable and supportive leaders.

Create an environment that encourages honesty by modeling open communication, expressing accountability as a leader, fostering regular group and 1:1 discussions, and training employees in communication and conflict resolution. Such an environment makes it easier for an employee to ask for and accept help.

Related sidebar: What Can You Do If You’re Being Quietly Fired?

Build rapport with employees. It is important for employees to have relationships with organizational authority figures beyond their immediate bosses so they will feel more comfortable raising red flags and bringing issues to leadership’s attention. Introduce yourself to new hires, attend company functions, and take time to learn and remember personal details about your staff.

Enable lateral transfers. The employee may simply be in the wrong job or paired with the wrong manager. That individual may flourish in a different department under a new supervisor. Announce internal job postings and encouraging employees to apply. Offer cross-training and job-shadowing opportunities.

Source: “Quiet Firing: What It Is and How to Spot It,”, Oct. 30, 2022

Clearly communicate expectations.

Setting and communicating clear expectations is key to creating a healthy workplace.

Priorities have shifted, and many employees are no longer willing to value work and promotions over their own well-being. If going above and beyond at work is an expectation, that needs to be discussed during the interview and hiring process.

It’s also important to communicate the likely outcomes when workers do the bare minimum—i.e., let employees know they are risking the chance of promotions, pay increases or even continued employment with the company.

Source: “1 in 3 managers have responded to ‘quiet quitting’ with ‘quiet firing,'”, Jan. 19, 2023

Build great leaders.

Promoting someone to a leadership position doesn’t mean they automatically know how to lead a team. Ongoing leadership development and training programs are a must.

These programs should include customized plans that identify how high a leader wants to go, the skills and tools they need, and a timeline for how they will get there. It’s also crucial to consider how a leader’s team will function—do they need to manage individuals across various platforms, or is their staff entirely virtual or in-person?

Skills such as conflict resolution, accountability and communication are essential for all leaders and should be a top consideration when creating and implementing development programs.

Implement weekly or monthly programs to promote open and ongoing access to leadership curriculum (as opposed to limiting access to a single training event).

Source: “Quiet firing is a c-suite problem: how companies can fix it,” Quartz, Nov. 21, 2022

Create a safe space.

Don’t manage employees out. Instead, help them grow into the employees you need by offering a safe space with job security, trust and an expectation for candid, constructive feedback.

It’s your job as a manager to look out for your team members, keep them safe and make them the best employees they can be. Your impulse might be to avoid having hard conversations—don’t. Push through and be radically candid. When your employees know that failure results in learning and growth—instead of punishment—they will feel safe to act, and the whole company benefits.

Be direct. If you are annoyed or disappointed by something, address it head on. Calm yourself down, organize your thoughts, think of how you also have contributed to the issue and address it proactively. Let the employee know that there’s a problem but that your concern comes from a good place. Be clear that you will work to fix the issue together.

Make your expectations clear. Part of feeling safe is knowing where you stand. Whether you’re satisfied with or disappointed by performance, let employees know specifically why. If you don’t communicate your expectations, you can’t expect anyone to live up to them.

If they’re unable to accept the challenge of changing, provide them a safe way to exit with dignity, support and a generous severance.

Source: “Giving up on Employees Only Hurts Your Business,” Entrepreneur, April 5, 2018