Let’s Define “Going the Extra Mile”

Quiet quitting has been talked about many different ways. Doing the bare minimum. Refusing to work anything more than set hours. Completely disengaging with work.

Frankly, I’ve been confused by the rising interest in this topic. It doesn’t appear to be anything different than what people may have done in the past – it’s just now employees are talking about it.

Disengagement isn’t new. Employee engagement has been low for a long while, and while it got only slightly worse in 2021, it’s still rather poor overall.

Boundaries might be new. Our connected world has meant many of us have the ability to be connected to work 24/7.

But if quiet quitting is about boundaries, we should be celebrating. Boundaries are healthy. It’s hard to like and appreciate anything in life when it’s there 24/7 – so more boundaries should indicate more engagement.

Another way it’s been talked about is that employees are no longer willing to go the extra mile.

But what exactly is the extra mile?

If our only way of defining the extra mile is employees being willing to commit more hours, we have a problem. Is working more and more hours the behavior we really want to promote?

What if, instead of getting upset with employees for not wanting to put in an unlimited amount of hours, we think of better ways to define success. Better ways to “go the extra mile.”

These might include:

  • Saying something that goes against what everyone else was thinking or nodding along with.
  • Uncovering an opportunity that is more important than the current focus.
  • Going out of the way to better understand another department or help a coworker.
  • Being willing to drive for clarity around a problem or request before immediately jumping to action.

Many leaders say they encourage these behaviors. And I encourage you to consider your actual response to each of these when it happens (what you did), rather than simply where you may have told your employees these types of behaviors were encouraged (what you said).

When someone said something you didn’t agree with, did you counter with your response? Or did you ask questions to better understand how they may have arrived at their perspective?

When someone uncovered an area with potential for greater impact than the one they had been assigned, did you work with them to shift priorities? Or was it added to their list of responsibilities?

When someone tried to get clearer on the problem and the desired outcome, did you work to clarify measures of success? Or were you frustrated that they didn’t jump into action with their best guess of what it was that you wanted?

It’s easy to get upset when thinking that others might not be contributing as much as you would like them to. But being clearer about what you want them to contribute and how you may be encouraging (or discouraging) that contribution has the potential to create a greater impact for both the organization and the engagement of the employee.

Read More Articles:

The Soul of a Company