Why “This is how we used to do it” Isn’t Working


You’ve found yourself in a new role with a new company and you’re excited to make a lasting mark within the organization.  You’ve been trained on about 100 new processes and procedures and have seen some areas for improvement.  Your trainer or new manager has mentioned the need for change but says they have been too busy and haven’t been able to make them. 

After you’ve performed the processes and procedures a few times and have a better idea of how or where you would like to make changes, you schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your thoughts.  The meeting arrives and you’re sitting there with your notes and ideas and you say, “This is how we used to do it at [insert past employer here]…”  This line will not get you anywhere at your new company or in your new role.  Here’s why:

1.       You don’t work there anymore.  Your past job ended for a reason and trying to force your old employer on your new employer is not going to make you very popular with your new coworkers. 

2.       Just because you used to do it that way doesn’t mean it’s right.  If your only argument for implementing change is because you used to do it that way, you won’t be found very credible. 

3.       Change is hard.  It’s hard regardless of who is trying to make the change and/or why.  When you make someone feel like you are proposing a change because their way is wrong and someone else has already found the right way, your ideas will be harder for them to hear.  No one likes to feel like they’ve missed the boat on something.

Instead of trying to implement change with your past experience in mind, try approaching the situation as a mutually beneficial improvement opportunity.  Ask yourself what the best way of completing a process or procedure would be.  Don’t think about how you’ve done it in the past or how you are being asked to do it currently.  If you start with a fresh slate, you’ll be in a much better position to find and understand the best approach.  This will also help you to look at things from a different perspective which often opens up more possibilities.

So let’s go back to the meeting with your manager regarding how and why you’d like to make changes to some processes and/or procedures.  Your boss will not want to hear “Let’s do it this way because that’s how someone else is doing it and they are doing it better.”  Your boss will want to hear why you’d like to make the change (“We are spending too much time doing this”) and how it will benefit the company (“We will save time by doing it this way”).  Keep it short and simple and keep the focus on your current employer and the benefit they will receive from your suggestions.




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