In actuarial circles, practitioners often emphasize the importance of knowing the difference between signal (facts, data, action) and noise (chatter, distractions, lethargy). As the story from FORTUNE illustrates, quiet on all sides of the employee-employer relationship – silence, disengagement – is a signal, too. The quiet thing works both ways. It always has.
Whether you are an employee giving less than what you get or an employer manipulating people you do not “like” to resign, you are signaling that the purpose of the organization comes second to what you desire and that you are thinking narrowly and, quite possibly, selfishly. You run the risk of fomenting an energy that leads to a suspicious, pernicious culture, especially when you withhold concrete, objective feedback and make decisions based upon personality and persona.
The purpose of a business is to do business. Much of what we see today, among employers and employees alike, is some strange judgment-making that has nothing to do with customers, products or growth.
Organizations that try to exist in this fashion are outdone by companies whose people live in the light, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and focus on the work and what is best for all stakeholders. Getting outdone by healthy competitors is not karma or even justice. It is inevitability.