Quiet Quitting for Training Professionals

Yes, I shamelessly jumped on board the “quiet quitting” bandwagon this week with a podcast around how training professionals can adopt some sort of boundaries when it comes to the work we’re asked to do.

Introduction 

Welcome, everyone, to another episode of Train Like You Listen, a podcast about all things learning and development in bite-sized chunks. I’m Brian Washburn, I am your host. I’m also the Co-founder of a company called Endurance Learning. Today’s podcast revolves around social media’s latest craze—quiet quitting.

Before I get into that, I do need to let you know that today’s podcast is brought to you by Soapbox, which is an award-winning online tool that you can use for about 5 or 10 minutes. And you can take care of 50 or 60% of the work when it comes to developing a live, instructor-led training, whether that is in-person or virtual. Basically you go in, you tell the computer how long your presentation is, how many people are going to attend, whether it’s in-person or virtual, what your learning objectives are, and Soapbox instantly generates a training lesson plan for you. And it’s gonna have clusters of training activities that are designed to help you accomplish your learning objectives.

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#QuietQuitting

What is Quiet Quitting?

All right. Let’s get into this idea of quiet quitting. And first of all, if you haven’t heard of it, if you haven’t been on Twitter or LinkedIn or TikTok, then maybe you don’t know what this is. But if you have, maybe you’ve read about this phenomenon called quiet quitting. I don’t know that it’s actually a new concept, but it has been given a buzzy new name—this idea of quiet quitting. Well, there are different definitions depending on where you look. Basically, quiet quitting is the idea of simply refusing to take on additional work responsibilities that are not part of your job. A more traditional term might simply be setting boundaries.

3 Examples of Quiet Quitting in the Context of Training

But let’s talk about this idea of quiet quitting in the context of training. For me personally, there are a lot of things that I’d like to quit, quietly or not, but I’m gonna give you three examples of things that I’m just gonna refuse to do.

1. Typing Flip Charts at the End of a Session

One is typing up flip charts at the end of a session. Now I will confess this was not necessarily my idea. This idea was actually inspired by a recent Twitter post that I saw from somebody else who was talking about quiet quitting. I’m just gonna adopt it. The idea here is: why not just take photos of the flip charts and send them around? And that is if you actually plan to do something with those flip charts anyway. 

I can’t tell you how much time I have wasted typing up flip charts that nothing actually ever happened with them. Or I could have simply taken pictures and distributed those if we wanted those flip charts to live on past the training event. Don’t get me wrong—I love flip charts. It’s one of the elements of my amazing learning experience periodic table. But when it comes to typing up flip charts after a training session, there are better ways to do it.

2. Adding Navigation Instructions at the Beginning of an eLearning Module

Another thing that I would like to quit, whether it’s quietly or not, is adding navigation instructions at the beginning of an eLearning module. Let’s give our learners some credit. If we need to use navigation instructions, maybe we should be asking if we made the navigation a little too complex or confusing in the first place. Generally, an arrow that points forward or backward is a good way to let people know where to click to go forward or back in the eLearning.

3. Distributing Post-Training Evaluation Forms

A final area that I would like to quit is distributing post-training evaluation forms. That’s because high scores certainly do boost my ego, it’s the one negative comment that I’ll fixate on for months or maybe even years. I mean, honestly, I rarely do anything with the feedback or data from these forms anyway, right?

What is the Role of a Trainer?

So I’m sure that you might be asking yourself right now, “Wait a second, Brian. These all sound like they’re actually part of your job. So are you quiet quitting, or are you just being insubordinate? And I would tell you listener, if that is your question, it is a very good question. Maybe I’m not using the term correctly. Or maybe I am. I think it really depends on what we view our role as trainers to be. 

If we see ourselves as order takers, taking in requests for training that includes making sure we include three slides of how to navigate an eLearning course and delivering on those requests as stated, then yes, we’re kind of being jerks. We’re kind of being insubordinate. Personally, I’d like to look at each of us in the world of training as more than an order taker. To do so though does require some courage and some knowledge about what really works. So maybe just ignoring their request for level one feedback or typing up notes on a flip chart without saying anything is not quite the right play. If we see ourselves as more than order takers, then quietly ignoring requests in the name of setting boundaries, it probably can lead to a world of trouble, so maybe we need to be vocal in some ways.

Strategies to Help With Quitting Poor Training Practices

So let me go into one last piece before I sign off here, and that would be two different strategies to help with quitting poor training practices. And poor training practices should never be part of our job descriptions in the first place, that’s why we need to quit these things.

The first strategy I’m gonna talk about is when we get a request that we think is a poor practice, we should probably ask why. There’s a whole problem-solving philosophy—I think it also goes into lean principles as well—that goes into not just asking why once but five times, or five-ish times. 

So for example:

Why do we need to insert navigation into this eLearning?

And the answer might be:

So that learners know how to navigate the module.

Okay. Fair enough.

But why?

Well, without navigation they’ll be lost.

Okay.

Why?

Because–

And here’s where when asking why and drilling down a little bit deeper can really get into some fun waters. How are you gonna answer that question?

Why would people be lost without navigation?

Well, maybe they’ve never used a computer?

Okay. We’re starting to see a flaw in the rationale. So simply asking why can help us and our stakeholders get to the idea that maybe we shouldn’t be doing this. Maybe we should be quitting a practice. But on the other side, we also have to be open to the idea that asking why—it may lead to a solid rationale, so maybe we shouldn’t be quitting a practice that we previously found off-putting. So asking why can go either way, but either way we should all be satisfied of the result.

A second strategy when it comes to quitting that could be helpful for both you and your stakeholders is to be prepared to offer rationale behind why you’re planning to quit some of these processes. So if you’re asked to conduct post-training surveys, it may be helpful to point out that there’s no research that suggests post-training surveys ever measure whether training is effective and/or whether anyone learned anything. 

By its nature, level one surveys at best measure people’s reactions. Did they like the training or not? We can combine rationale with asking why. I’ve distributed many post-training surveys, but I’ve rarely done much with the survey results. So that’s my rationale. Then we can ask why. Why? What do you plan to do? And hopefully we can drill down a little bit deeper there and come to a conclusion that some of these practices just are not helpful.

Trainers Need to Find Boundaries

In sum, this concept of quiet quitting is a good reminder that we as trainers do need to find the boundaries. This not only helps us to reduce unnecessary work on our part, but, and as paradoxical as it may sound, pushing back or even eliminating a poor training practice, no matter how much a stakeholder may initially want to have it included in a training program, it can help us to be better partners for our stakeholders.

All right, that’s it. That’s all I’m going to say about quiet quitting. Thank you for listening. If you need help on your own training programs, whether they’re instructor-led training or eLearning, go ahead and drop me a line at brian@endurancelearning.com and let’s talk. If you know someone who might find today’s topic about quiet quitting—or at least setting some boundaries when it comes to training—not being order takers, if you know somebody who might find this topic to be important, go ahead and pass a link along of this podcast. If you wanna make sure that you’re notified of a new podcast when it’s hot off the press, go ahead and subscribe at Apple or Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcast. Even better would be if you could give us a like or review – it’ll just take you a minute and it’ll mean a ton to us. That’s how people find out about us. Until next time, happy training everyone. 

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