One thing I have learned in my years of managing people is, act now and ask for forgiveness later. I found that whenever I would ask my management if I could change a process I would get told ‘no,’ regardless of what my changes I wanted to make were, even if they were the best for the situation. It is better to try something new, if it works, great, if not, try something new tomorrow, but never get complacent doing the same thing over and over again, unless it truly does work as the best possible process. You will never know what the best process is until you try.
Try Something New
A company that does the same thing over and over again will never grow and eventually, sometimes sooner than later, fail and go bankrupt. It is necessary that its leaders try new things to better the company’s overall process and avoid becoming complacent. You will often hear some of the ‘old timers’ say, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” but you should still strive to change things and see if there is a more efficient way of doing them. You will receive a lot of push back from others, new and old, for changing a process because they will have the mindset of, “This is the way it has always been,” and people in general do not like change but as a leader you need to be able to coerce them otherwise.
How to Change the Mindset
So you have decided to change a process but no one on your team is willing to make the change, what can you do? Well, usually when I decide I want to shake things up a bit, I will tell my subordinates that if they do not like the new process, after giving it a legitimate trial run, we will go back to the way things were prior, if not, we will run with my new plan. This usually works for me because I noticed most people, although resistant to change, will try something new if they know they can go back to what is comfortable if it does not work in their favor. After your team sees the benefits of your new plan, they will be more open to changes you make in the future. If your plan does not pan out the way you thought, it may create some distrust among your team, but do not worry because most people will not hold it against you; but do not overdo it. If your plan does not work, stay with the old ways and keep pushing out new ways of doing things. In the end, if none of your ideas seems to work out, you will need to come to grips that maybe the old way is the best way. Find what works best for you and your team; everyone is different and will have differing motivators.
Trial and Error
This will take some trial and error to find the right balance, because you do not want to be that person that is just challenging the process and be looked at as someone who is pushing back and being resistant. Nobody likes a ‘yes man’ nor does anyone like someone who always argues and says, “No, I am not doing that.” There is a line between being disobedient and challenging your leaders and their processes. Some processes are in place because they have already been through this trial and error phase, and you need to be respectful of this, but there is usually always something you can change within a process, no matter how large or how small.
Ask for Input
If none of your ideas seem to work out, ask for input from your subordinates as well as your management. This will also get the buy in from them when changing a process as well as make it a team decision and not an individual one; which will also help introduce change when everyone is onboard. Bringing in input from the whole team will help with cohesiveness and help morale. No one likes a dictator, so don’t be one. That being said, if no one wants to change, that’s when you need to put your foot down and make the change and ask for forgiveness later. Use the dichotomy of leadership here, make changes but keep some things the same, make individual decisions but do it as a team, etc.
Like I said, it is better to try something new and ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission first and get told no. Your leadership should see you trying new things as a positive trait and empower you to do so; unless of course it is something reckless or illegal. ‘Yes men’ never climb the ladder nor do defiant employees, so find that balance that works for you and your employer. Notice the signs your leadership is giving you to back off, question it, but realize they have the ultimate authority. Use the dichotomy of leadership by asking for input but make the ultimate decision yourself.