“Keeping It Real” When “Real” Means “Selfish, Unprofessional Jerk”

I tried to find a straight video of  KWWL-TV’s Mark Woodley, its sports reporter, modeling unethical workplace conduct and a complete lack of professionalism in his emergency stint this week as a weather reporter. I couldn’t: every available clip compilation is presented like the CNN version above. Isn’t this cute and hilarious?

It isn’t either.  I can see that CNN’s talking heads might thinks so, since that network allows unprofessional conduct by the ‘talent” regularly, like Don Lemon getting bombed on the New Year Eve. Unless Woodley was told to be whiny prima donna as a publicity stunt and he might have been, given the state of journalism, broadcast and otherwise, in 2022, his attitude and ostentatious bitching should have guaranteed a suspension or worse.

When one is called upon by one’s employer or leader to fill in, do extra duties, help get through a crisis or emergency, or to be a team player and do what the team needs to have done, the  ethical and professional response is to do the best possible job you can with good cheer and without complaint. Woodley, who did the opposite, helped metastasize “quiet quitting” and many other forms of workplace societal rot.

This is how society becomes miserable in a Nation of Assholes. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/7/2022: Neil, Sam, Kwame, Mehmet And More

I took a wild guess that Neil had to have done this parody of his biggest hit because it was so obvious, and sure enough, I was right!

It’s not exactly an ethics story, but it does involve my home town of Arlington, Massachusetts: on September 7, 1813, a local newspaper in Troy, New York wrote about how Troy’s Samuel Wilson, a meat packer who supplied barrels of beef to the United States Army during the War of 1812, was being facetiously called “Uncle Sam” by soldiers because he stamped the barrels of meat “U.S.” The trivial story caught on and the nickname persisted. Decades later, brilliant 19th Century political cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902) began using a character called Uncle Sam as the personification of the nation, giving Sam the white beard and stars-and-stripes suit that he still wears today. Troy, quite reasonably, later dubbed itself “The Home of Uncle Sam.” But Wilson was born in Arlington, Mass., and the town management, frustrated with its relative obscurity despite being in the midst of other Greater Boston tourist destinations like Concord, Lexington and Cambridge, decided a few decades ago to promote Arlington as “The Birthplace of Uncle Sam,” essentially horning in on Troy’s historical territory (Troy was not pleased). Arlington even paid to have a statue of Nast’s Sam designed, cast and erected.

Nobody cared.

1. More on “quiet quitting”:  Gallup estimates that at least half the workforce is “quiet quitting,” meaning that it does the bare minimum required to keep jobs rather than working to do their best. Gallup’s analysis blames management, which is certainly part of the problem. It does not address the serious cultural ethics issue of workers seeking to be excellent because it is beneficial for society as a whole and an embodiment of the Golden Rule, as well as a life habit that develops good character and justifies trust. Quiet quitters are just a few degrees better than freeloaders, an anchor on the nation, the economy and the quality of life. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Verdict: ‘Quiet Quitting’ Is Unethical. Next Question?”

[The caption on perhaps my favorite Charles Addams cartoon reads, “We never could have done it without him.”]

I thought that the essay on “quiet quitting” would spark a good discussion, and when I think that, I’m usually wrong. This time I was right, and among the excellent comments was this Comment of the Day by Tim Hayes, who focuses on the crucial aspect of the issue that I barely touched on at all: the responsibilities of management.

Here is Tim’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Verdict: “Quiet Quitting” Is Unethical. Next Question?”…


So, full disclosure, I hate the terminology and discussions around “quiet quitting”, both as a manager, and as an employee. Part of this is because it is unethical – but also part of it is because a lot of current discussions seem to be about deflections and doublespeak, and they just frankly aren’t doing anyone any good.

Some instances of quiet quitting are simply laziness on the part of the employee – this shouldn’t surprise us (I can make a strong argument that laziness when possible is actually a biological predisposition, and furthermore beneficial to societies when channeled appropriately), and while performing excellently is a virtue, and should be a path to success, it is not a necessity in all things. The American experiment, and indeed all civilizations (Western and Eastern), have gotten along just fine with the majority of individuals being mediocre – the trick has historically lay in defining mediocre as still sufficiently productive to support a society when the majority of its members are at that level, while allowing those who wish to perform exceptionally to do so. So, in the situation where quiet quitting is about laziness, the only major question to be answered is what constitutes acceptable levels of performance in the role at hand, and have those been adequately defined and communicated to the person in that role.

This is why I hate hearing the discussions as a manager – they almost always ignore that there is a failure of leadership/management in these cases. If I have someone who is performing the job as I’ve described it to them, and is actually meeting my set standards for acceptable levels of performance, yet their performance of their responsibilities is insufficient in some way, then it is axiomatic that I have failed to define as acceptable the levels of performance that are sufficient to fulfill my need. If, conversely, I have described acceptable levels of performance and the person is not meeting them, and so my business needs are not being met, than I am failing to hold this person to the standards I have set. Continue reading