We’ve all heard the dreaded phrase, “But this is how we’ve always done things!” which is typically presented as a valid objection to implementing something new. It’s the #1 enemy of change.
So to properly counter this anti-change statement, we need to look at two things: Why the pushback is happening, and how to address those concerns.
Reasons for Pushback
Change isn’t easy for anyone. It’s not hard to understand why—the Harvard Business Review looked at ten reasons people resist change, and found that reasons for being against it included loss of control, uncertainty, and concerns about more work. Seems pretty logical.
Similarly within a training context, there are typically three main reasons people push back against new training and procedures.
Learning something new is hard.
Employees already have enough on their plates (sometimes too much, really). So, implementing a new process means learning a new way of doing something—and that’s increasing the payload on their already overtaxed minds. Trainees don’t want more challenges—they want life to be easier.
The new process is slower.
Sometimes the answer for training means re-working an existing process, and even adding in a few extra steps to achieve the desired result. But extra steps sound like more work—and can produce a collective groan. Even though the new process may ultimately lead to greater efficiency once it becomes more natural, it sounds like a bad deal in the beginning.
They don’t see any benefits.
Trainees want to know: What’s in it for me? If they can’t clearly see the benefits, they’ll view the change as a very negative experience that’s only making their lives more complicated. They can’t see the benefits unless you point them out.
On the surface, these trainee concerns sound pretty legitimate. You can’t blame them for wanting things to stay the same if that’s what they’ve grown to find comfortable—and especially if what they’re already doing works.
But the quote by George Bernard Shaw says, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
The changes implemented in training typically serve a greater purpose—but don’t always present a direct, immediate benefit to the employee.
The way to overcome these objections is to zoom out to a big picture view. Talk about how it will benefit long-term outcomes and processes, and ultimately make them more successful within their roles. But be careful here! Employees definitely don’t want to hear the new process is more work for them, but will make their boss’s life a breeze.
Instead, even if the more global efficiencies are the main motivation for the change, you need to communicate benefit at the employee level as well.
For example, you might say, “This new process takes an extra minute to complete because it adds three new steps of data entry, but the report you can now print will save you 15 minutes when you need to access the patient record the next time.”
Bingo! Revealing to employees that this new process will ultimately save them 14 minutes of frustration is something the can ultimately support.
“But This is How We’ve Always Done Things” Is Not a Good Reason
Training that implements change can feel daunting for employees—but the secret to overcoming the “But this is how we’ve always done things” mindset is all about presenting change in a positive light, with clear benefits spelled out for the trainees.