“Well, that’s just how we do things here… It’s how we’ve always done it… It’s best that you don’t rock the boat…”
Have you ever heard these dismissive responses when you or your colleagues have suggested changing things in the workplace? Change is always met with some resistance – just ask any visionary.
Anyone Can Challenge the Status Quo
Even when we know something should be different, we don’t always have the courage to take action. And when we do, we risk our ideas falling on deaf ears, or being overruled or ignored. These five approaches can help increase your chances of success when considering challenging to the status quo.
- Ask the Right Questions
If you keep asking yourself “why” when you’re following a process or regular course of action, you’ve likely identified something to be improved.
If that’s the case, ask yourself and other people questions, in order to fully understand why things are being done in a particular way. There may be good reasons that you’re unaware of, or maybe it is just because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Listen carefully – their answers may lead to further questions, problems or solutions that you hadn’t considered.
- Prioritize Your Ideas
Perhaps you have a whole list of ideas that you’d like to implement. If so, it’s important to pick your battles. Being passionate about change is admirable, but rattling off new ideas every day will see people start to tune out, and your best ideas may get lost among the lesser ones.
For maximum impact, pick the ones that are most relevant and likely to succeed. Choose wisely; take time for self-reflection and factor in some personal brainstorming.
- Gather Allies
If you’re planning to challenge long-standing attitudes or processes, it can help to have people on your side!
Multiple perspectives can help creativity to blossom. You won’t be the only person in the office with ideas, and you might inspire others to speak up with theirs. You’ll gather allies who can support you if you meet resistance, either face-on or behind your back.
Remember, collaboration is the key to success, so it’s important to put your ego aside.
- Perfect Your Pitch
There’s a fine line between firm reasoning and antagonism, and change is a scary and therefore touchy subject for some people. If you’re too forceful, you risk people shutting off, and perhaps shutting down your idea before you even had the chance to sell it to them. Be sensitive to other people’s points of view. Listen to what they have to say and be clear about what’s at risk and what will be improved by your idea.
Keep your pitch short and snappy, and leave plenty of time for discussion and questions. Be sure to choose the right moment too.
- Keep Calm and Persevere
If you don’t succeed straight away, don’t let exhaustion, anger or stress get the better of you. It’s important not to let failures get you down. Learn from the experience and focus on turning negative emotions around. Some ideas can take a while to come to fruition.
Have you ever challenged the status quo? How did you approach it? What was the outcome? Would you do anything differently next time?
Source: Mindtools, Faye Bradshaw April 2019