Change is almost always received with at least a little resistance. When someone says “we’ve always done it this way” it’s a signal that you’ll need to do more work than just the change itself. You’ll need to “sell” your people on why this specific change.
When planning for change, then, you should plan for the change itself in addition to internal persuasion time. Yes, this takes more time, and yes, you need to do this.
In today’s workplace, there is more of a need for explanation than in the good ol’ days. Employees want to understand why things may be different. Even if they don’t like the change, they will be more amenable to new methods if you’ve taken time to explain.
Good leaders understand the need to improve on established ways. Although the workplace isn’t a democracy, one of the ways that we can engage our staff is to involve them in the process. When they have a voice, they tend to be less resistant to change and more willing to be part of the new and improved process.
But this becomes even more interesting when it’s the leaders who are stuck in “we’ve always done it this way” mode, while their employees are trying to recommend improvements. Be open to improvements, and welcome changes that make sense. If the changes don’t make sense, communicate your answer in a way that still makes the employees feel part of the process.
The bottom line? Think of “we’ve always done it this way” as a trigger. Pay attention to what it signals and intend to move forward with the best interests of the organization, not the person who is resisting change.