Have you ever been in a meeting where someone uttered the phrase, “but we’ve always done it this way,” as if that somehow makes it okay? Yeah, me too.
And if I’m being completely honest, that moment often perfectly illustrates the point that we need to do better. To shake off the dust and cobwebs and breathe some new life into whatever it is — a process, a campaign, a brand message, etc.
The hard truth is this: Complacency is the antithesis of innovation. And an environment that promotes complacency, even passively, isn’t benefiting your teams, strategy, or revenue. If we’re too comfortable with the status quo, what’s encouraging us to rally, ideate, and charge forward with newer, bolder, and fresher ideas? Now before you set your pitchforks ablaze, yes, I know it’s not that simple, nor that black and white. There are natural ebbs and flows in these endeavors. Incessantly redlining your teams for high performance is a one-way ticket to burnout (and likely an accelerated rate of employee churn.) Neither of which is good for business.
But let’s level set for a moment. Change, while scary for some, is truly necessary for growth on both a personal and professional level. In business, especially amidst a relentless pandemic, the adapt or die mantra is all too real. As a prime example: The downtown Seattle region, like many other tech hubs, is basically a ghost town 6+ months into a massive remote work revolution. Many businesses and restaurants have completely closed down. Those that have ridden the waves this summer have adjusted their business models, altered hours, and changed menus — providing takeout, meal kits, and outdoor dining options. Even then, though, will it be enough to carry them through the winter months? Time will tell.
Having both the ability or the mindfulness to recognize the need for change and the bravery to welcome it are both ongoing practices. That said, below are three easy steps to help drive alignment between you and your team, and start putting those practices to work.
3 Steps to Enacting Meaningful Change:
1. Start a Dialogue
Sit your team(s) down for a frank conversation. Open your door to discuss the areas that are difficult, function with friction, or are otherwise broken. Remember: Nothing said in this meeting is wrong, and each person will have their own perspective and insights. Even if there are no glaring issues, through open and communal conversation, minor inconveniences or frustrations may be uncovered — creating the perfect opportunity to dive into what comes next: the solution. (Or at the very least, the first step in identifying a solution.)
2. Empower Optimization
After identifying areas of improvement, empower your team(s) to make decisions based on the details of the conversation. You now know what needs to be improved — but how? Think of the individuals within these teams as subject matter experts in their field. Chances are, they’ve experienced similar problems before and will have quality insights or even ideas to optimize workflows, etc. The most important thing to remember in enacting change is that it doesn’t all need to happen at once. Don’t overwhelm or burnout your team(s) by doing too much right out of the gate. Crawl, walk, run.
3. Lean on Those That Have Perfected the Art
Remember the old, ‘there’s an app for that’ commercials? It still rings true — though, if it were me, I’d probably update the ad to ‘there’s a better app for that.’ Look at the core areas of the business that need an overhaul — does it come down to time tracking, visibility issues, or resource management and scheduling? Whatever’s causing the breakdown or slowdown, there’s bound to be at least a dozen, if not hundreds or thousands, of tools that can resolve the issue, as well as stress on the team(s). Check out your local app exchange, review sites, or other business blogs for their insights on helpful tools.
Quick Tip: When ‘we’ve always done it this way’ doesn’t cut it anymore for your project management, there’s LiquidPlanner.