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The Australian: Why your staff give you the silent treatment in meetings

08 Dec 2023
Workers who are more interested in their own careers than their company or organisation can detonate your office meetings.

Originally found at The Australian

Zoom is a “disaster” if you want to conduct meaningful meetings with your staff, but even face-to-face discussions are tricky as today’s employees increasingly opt for the silent treatment — present but not contributing.

That’s the view of Sydney University’s Professor Betina Szkudlarek who says, contrary to popular opinion, it’s not fear which holds people back during work meetings but factors like opportunism, convenience, ineptitude, and detachment.

She says people often focus on their careers and “self-interest outweighs organizational goals and leads to people not seeing value in contributing to organizational change”.

Other factors identified in her research [published in the Academy of Management Learning & Education] were convenience — a desire for an uncomplicated working life; ineptitude — the belief that only a few people can lead and speak up in meetings; and detachment — a close relation to the phenomenon of “quiet quitting” in the workplace.

Professor Szkudlarek, who works in the university’s business school and is also attached to Sweden’s Lund University, says: “A lot of research around this domain focuses on the fact that people are scared. But our research found that you can’t use that as an excuse. It’s very easy to blame the system, but in fact it’s quite often about self-interest, the idea ‘what’s in it for me?’. Then there’s the convenience issue of ‘I just want to have an easy life, I just want to have a nine-to-five job and I can’t be bothered to engage’.”

She says while her research with Mats Alvesson from Lund University relates mainly to face-to-face meetings, the factors are amplified on Zoom because it is easier for participants to be multi-tasking and less engaged during a virtual meeting.

Continue reading the original article at The Australian.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Learning & Education.

Read the Academy of Management Insights summary.

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