I recently transferred to a small office. When I say small, I mean I can count the number of employees on one hand. The backbone of the office is made up of two employees who have worked there for ages. They are fixtures in the community and will likely never leave.
Having the stability of long-term employees is a double-edged sword. I admire them for carrying the office through tough times, management changes, and attrition. On the other hand, as we all know, life is full of changes. Trying to institute changes with these people is sometimes a momentous task. No matter what directives that are passed down from above, they fight changes as it if is it comes at the cost of a blood sacrifice.
The latest change means we can scan documents and attach them directly to a case folder rather than keeping drawers full of folders filled with paper that is reviewed twice at best. Granted, breaking habits takes time, and in the beginning, it may seem more time costly. With practice, it becomes more efficient.
These ridged personalities refuse with the stance, “We’ve always done it this way.” This is followed quickly by, “But if nothing is in the folders, what will we send to management?” Of course, I counter with the fact management is responsible for the change to begin with. The point is to move away from folders and make everything digital.
One of these stodgy people is the secretary who sets up the folders. It is a hard truth that her work must be duplicated by me and the others into a digital format. In essence, she spends a large chunk of her day providing no value to the organization, and nothing we have found to say so far has budged her from her old patterns.
When will people accept the fact that, “We’ve always done it this way,” is not a good thing? It holds you back from embracing the change that is instrumental to growth, and some of this growth may actually make your life and the lives of those around you easier.
There is a difference between respecting traditions and stagnating. Choose wisely where you draw your line in the sand and be ready to move it as the tide of change ebbs and flows.