As a leader, are you protecting the status quo? We talk a lot about the status quo because we are constantly confronted by its protectors. In some cases we have described these protectors as Profit Pirates and Snipers. Sometimes they are just misguided or misled people in the organization. Regardless, if you determine in your mind that you want to challenge and change the status quo, you need to understand that things are going to get messy before the change. When you challenge the status quo, a group of people will be against you. They like things the way they are. They feel protected. They are not about the success of the organization. They are about protecting their power base, their work routine, their money or their job as they see it.
Here are just a few things to prepare for…
False accusations – People will tell half-truths or outright lies about you. They will spread gossip and rumors. You have to know this so you can prepare for it. The way you prepare for it is to share and receive openly. Ensure that you maintain the highest ethical standards and give no legitimate cause for finger pointing in your direction.
Time – Changing the status quo that’s been around for a while usually doesn’t get changed overnight. It’s important to understand that patience truly is a virtue when implementing a new direction. There are things that can be done which will have an immediate impact, such as removing or shifting personnel. However, real cultural change can take 6 to 18 months to occur. This is greatly affected by your communication of a vision, your brand, consistency of message and consistency of actions. You must be disciplined and believe in the change. Most people give up within 3 months and the status quo wins.
The percentages – When changing the status quo you will generally see 5% to 30% of employees embrace what you are doing. These will be your most engaged. You’ll also see at least 30% of employees actively go against you. The rest will sit on the fence to see where everything falls out. Over time, with a disciplined approach, you’ll win the percentages. Set realistic goals in your cultural shift, such as 5% engagement in the vision within 30 days, 20% in 90 days and 50% in 12 months.
Welcome pushback – This is critical to understand… If you don’t get pushback from at least 30% of your people, then you’re not making real change and the status quo has won before you even began. Welcome the pushback and expect it. Don’t fool yourself and think changing the status quo is simple. It’s messy. You might get bruised. But keep in mind that many things which are worthwhile are worth fighting for. In the end you’ll come out stronger as a leader and your organization will be stronger for it.
If your organization isn’t in the top 10% or even #1 in your market or in the country in your demographic, then a status quo change may be in order. We believe as a leader if your organization is not in the top 10% of its peer group then you’re not yet a great leader and it may be time for a change your status quo.