Challenging the Status Quo

Challenging the status quo is always a dangerous thing. Sometimes, it is necessary, but it almost always causes stress and anxiety. For example, a person was recently promoted to manage a retail store. She had been an assistant manager for a long time but this was her first opportunity to be the decision maker. When she arrived at her new store, she immediately began making changes, large and small, significant and insignificant. The abrupt changes created stress and even anger with the seasoned staff at the store. The manager did not consult the staff before making the changes, did not inform the staff before the changes were implemented, and did not care if the staff reacted negatively toward the changes. This confrontational approach to challenging the status quo was disruptive and rather unproductive. The store had a substantial turnover in staff and poor morale among the staff that stayed.

Here are a few tips to challenge the status quo without being disruptive and abrasive.

1. Ask questions before making changes. Ask the staff, your supervisor, and your peers. We do we do that this way? Could there be another way to do this better? What would happen if we did this another way? Remember, you may be in charge, but you can't do everything yourself. Get your team to buy-in on the changes before you make them.

2. Put someone else in charge of finding the needed solution. Appoint your next in command to research ways to fix whatever is broken. Give them a specific thing to fix and a deadline to bring you three recommendations. You may be surprised at what you get. Your staff knows things that you don't know. Utilize their knowledge and insights.

3. Create a small team (2-3) of potential leaders and ask them to submit a list of things they think should be addressed for your organization to be successful. Listen to them. Knowing how other people think, how they prioritize issues, and what they think is important will help you know where to begin.

While your ideas may be good, perhaps even better that everyone else's, getting your team to buy-in on changing the status quo will make it easier for you and for them. Communicate with and involve your team if your want to make effective changes.

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