How do you help people who have "always done it this way" accept new ideas for doing things better?
I am a new manager at a mid-size privately owned business. I was hired to bring new ideas and ways of thinking to the marketing department. Many of the employees who work in my department have been at the company for 10+ years. I am hearing lots of "we've always done it this way" when I try to make a change. I am getting frustrated and feel that I am not doing my job. Help!
Thanks for submitting your question on our blog!
Initiating change can be very difficult, especially if you are new to the company yourself. You have taken a very important first step toward success by reaching out to learn about the best ways for successfully leading others through change. Here at The Professional Development Group, we frequently work with executives and teams adapting to the "new normal" of constant change in the workplace. You're not alone!
Here are 6 suggestions for helping your team embrace new ways to succeed:
1. First and foremost, listen. When you see an opportunity for change, you may want to start the conversation with a question like: "I have some ideas about how we could make some improvements. First, I would like to hear your opinions. We could brainstorm together and come up with something better than we could think of on our own." Showing that you are interested in hearing others' ideas is important. Remember that no one idea is born perfect at the conception. Ideas (for change, improvements, or solutions) get better as we gather more perspectives.
2. Acknowledge that change can be scary. When we initiate change, we are excited about it. When someone else initiates the change, it can cause feelings of anger and fear. That is not uncommon. Anticipate that. Give your team time for working through their emotions and be there to help. The new book How to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence at Work & in Relationships, published by The Professional Development Group, shares the step-by-step guide for processing yourself and others through challenging emotions.
3. Involve the team. When possible, seek employee input about what they would like to see improved. Involving people in determining how change will be implemented will create more buy-in and engagement.
4. Speak to the benefit of change for the employees. Often people feel that changes could threaten their job, title, or expertise. Show how the changes you propose will not result in people losing their jobs. Emphasize positive outcomes like learning new technical skills, meeting new people in other departments, developing themselves as change leaders.
5. Be transparent. If you were brought into your new role to make changes, let the employees know that. Ask that upper management communicate your role to the organization and then follow up with your own meetings or individual conversations to listen, learn and then explain your top priorities for change. If there's a possibility that employees will lose their jobs, be honest about that too. If you don't have information, tell the employees you will share what you know as soon as you are able.
6. Mind Your D, I, S, C's. When implementing change, it's important to take into account the communication styles of your team members. People who are on the D/I side of the wheel may be ready to leap into something new without considering the details, while those on the S/C side of the wheel may want to ask questions about why the change is necessary and how it will be implemented. Work on communicating with people according to their style preferences so everyone knows what to expect and keep checking in with team members throughout the process.
Good luck with making positive change happen in your organization!
Would you like us to help you lead a change initiative within your team or organization? Our Conversations for Change® Workshop is a dynamic learning experience that will give you and your team a better understanding of how to navigate through change and build stronger teams.
Cheering for your success,
About the Author
A high performing teams consultant with international experience in both Europe and Asia, Melanie Sanchez-Jones knows how to create the kind of positive change that transforms workplace culture.
Sign up for our monthly communication newsletters.