That’s the Way We’ve Always Done it!

How many times has this reaction stifled your business's progress?

The phrase “That’s the way we’ve always done it!” is a siren song that lures failure into your operation. If you’re a manager or someone who’s tasked with leadership, letting those words escape your lips is the same as admitting you need to refresh your outlook or worse—that you’ve overstayed your welcome in your position.

Leadership requires influence. If you can’t influence people, you can’t lead. Blocking a new idea outright, whether the thought is a good one or a real stinker, demonstrates inflexibility and unwillingness to listen. In turn, these traits erase the influence you need to exert to be an effective leader.

If you’re the kind of person who answers, “We’ve never done it that way before!” to every suggestion for improvement, then changing your mindset overnight won’t likely be easy. Fortunately, the first step you should take to erase the notion that you’re a stonewalling so-and-so is extremely simple.

Keep a pen and notepad handy for the times when employees who care about your company’s well-being come to you with ideas to boost quality, increase efficiency, or make the place more pleasant. Make eye contact and write down the suggestion—even if you think it belongs in the circular file.

The act of noting the ideas encourages employees to get involved and generates a lot of influence points for you. After all, you think enough of them to let them provide input—and you value that input enough, whether it’s applicable or not, to make a record of it.

Now you’re probably saying, “What should I do next? I’ve never interacted with my staff like this before!” This might sound radical, but if you’re really brave, make time for employees to actually show you how their ideas work and the ways in which they can benefit your business.

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