Human beings are afraid of change and thus seek to avoid it. This is often overlooked in business settings, which I suppose is only because saying “people hate change” is like saying “eat healthy and exercise.” Everyone knows it’s true – and everyone’s tired of hearing it.
So, forget that people hate change, but remember this one outcome of stability-seeking behaviors: the false belief that avoiding choice is possible. You may know the phrase, “not making a decision is making a decision.”
Taken one step further, not making a decision stifles action, and so often causes the worst possible outcome. Consider this scenario. Your top wrap installer comes to you, unhappy. Scheduling woes, a recent paycheck stumble and a difficult coworker have him reconsidering his work (and, likely, your company). He wants to talk about more flexible hours.
Your first instinct: No. You’ve got jobs coming in faster than you can fill them and this guy is the only one who seems able to get the details right. That impossible client with endless low-margin color change jobs? Finally happy, but only with this installer. Switching departments? Fewer hours? No, no, no.
So many employers, at this point, try to convince people to stay in their current roles. They may add a few perks, but their actions have one goal: to maintain the status quo. The blind spot here is that the status quo was gone the moment the installer said, “Hey, do you have a minute?”
Often, we as employers or managers or imperfect human beings hold on to something that is already gone. The biggest tipoff that this is happening is that we start thinking we need to keep things the same. This sounds like, “I think this is fine as-is,” “There’s nothing wrong with it, why change it?”, or “Maybe we can consider that later.” (That last one, I am guilty of.)
It doesn’t mean we have to change everything for every request. But we must realize that a request for change is, itself, a type of a shift. You can’t go back to pretending you have a happy, satisfied wrap installer after that conversation. Even if the guy goes back to the same job, things are different. So make sure that whatever you’re choosing is the best option. Just don’t fool yourself thinking you can go back.
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