I met with a client over lunch a few weeks ago. We had agreed to meet earlier this year to discuss continuing some work with his executive team; however, when we met he confided in me that “plans had changed.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I was let go a couple of weeks ago.”
The story about his exit became even more interesting, as it was actually the former CEO, the very one that he had replaced, who had stepped in as his replacement.
[Tweet “The old replaced by the new, replaced again by the old… Sound familiar?”]
It should, as history has a way of repeating itself (just think about how many former actors have become President of the United States? Maybe Donald Trump has a chance…)
What’s important to understand is that there really isn’t anything new under the sun. The iPhone was not new, but an improvement over the already existing Blackberry; online retailers are simply a more convenient form of in-store retail; and Tesla is an improvement over existing forms of hybrid and electric vehicles that have been around for decades. The list goes on…
So what should you do when an employee makes the statement “We’ve tried that before, it didn’t work?”
Well, first of all, don’t dismiss their comment. Despite how frustrating or annoying this comment might be, it’s actually a sign of concern. Said differently, an employee who makes this kind of statement is actually suggesting that “we’ve invested time and money into this approach in the past, but didn’t achieve the results we expected.”
Second, consider what a productive response to this question is that dissects the objection. Responses such as “What specifically didn’t work?” or “Why don’t you think it worked?” prompts further dialogue and digs to the very heart of why the change or idea might not have achieved the desired outcomes.
Lastly, celebrate those who make such comments. That’s right, thank them for their comments and ideas. You see, it’s better to have an employee who makes a comment that is negative, then make no comment at all.
[Tweet “You should crave objections, feedback and disagreement.”]
It suggests that employees are concerned that you will waste time on things that have been proven not to work. All you need to do is determine specifically why they didn’t work and then make some minor adjustments to your approach.
It’s true there really isn’t anything new under the sun, but fortunately there are an infinite number of approaches to introduce change if you understand what specifically might need to be changed.
Sometimes replacing the old, with the new, and then the new with the old isn’t so bad after all.
© Shawn Casemore 2016. All rights reserved.