How To Thrive in a Job Where "We’ve Always Done It This Way"

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 18, 2022 | Published September 15, 2021

Updated October 18, 2022

Published September 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Innovation is one of the most important aspects of staying relevant in the modern business market, but some businesses operate with the same policies and strategies that they used when they opened. Many managers have an attitude of "we've always done it this way," which can be challenging if you have creative ideas and want to promote growth. Learning about why some people value this perspective can help you understand how to introduce a more inventive culture in the workplace.

In this article, we explain why some workplaces have a mindset of maintaining the way they've always done things and share ways to excel in these environments.

What is the "we've always done it this way" mindset?

The thought process of "we've always done it this way" is the belief that if something works well, there's no reason to change. Many managers developed successful processes and strategies when they first joined a team and maintained those strategies even as the industry changed. This mindset values stability, safety and security. Although these are beneficial in some circumstances, they can also have unintended effects on the workplace. Here are some of the drawbacks to be aware of:

  • Using outdated technology

  • Avoiding all risks, even if they have benefits

  • Limiting growth opportunities for team members

  • Missing industry trends

  • Losing customers to more modern companies

Related: Signs of a Dead-End Job and What To Do About It (With Tips)

Why do employers commit to existing strategies?

There are many reasons employers and other individuals feel committed to their past methods for completing work. Some people genuinely have a time-tested strategy that's the best option available but are willing to consider other options to confirm that their method still aligns with the market. Others have experiences and perspectives that make them feel attached to their ideas. Here are some reasons for fixed mindsets at work:

  • Lack of resources: Some people prefer to maintain their current method of operating because they don't have the resources to purchase new technology or try new systems.

  • Fear of failure: When someone is happy with their current results, they may worry about any possible problems from making changes or trying something new.

  • Inexperience: If managers at a company only have experience with one method of completing work, they may not feel comfortable overseeing other types of business operations.

Benefits of working in a place with a fixed mindset

Workplaces with a fixed mindset can have a challenging work environment because of their resistance to change, but they may actually provide several benefits if you have motivation and tenacity:

  • Self-development: Working somewhere with a fixed mindset gives you opportunities to learn about potential changes and upgrades, grow your skills and educate others. Being a force for change in your workplace is an amazing opportunity for self-development.

  • Leadership opportunities: If your current workplace has managers with an outdated understanding of the industry, you can provide an innovative, modern perspective as a future leader.

  • Knowledge sharing: When you work in an outdated environment, you have the external motivation to collaborate with your colleagues, share your knowledge, develop new systems and pitch suggestions to your managers

Related: 12 Key Characteristics of a Culture of Innovation (With Tips)

8 tips for thriving in a static environment

Here are several strategies to use if you work somewhere with a fixed mindset and you want to enact change:

1. Acknowledge existing success

Recognize that the current systems at your workplace enabled the company to thrive and survive for a long time. Understanding your manager's perspective and acknowledging why they value existing methods can build empathy and promote open communication. Be appreciative of how the company worked in the past while also understanding that changes can help it improve.

2. Start with incremental changes

Begin with suggesting small adjustments to help everyone feel comfortable with change and realize that innovation can be positive. For example, digitizing a filing system can save time in a simple way and make information accessible to the whole team. Introducing this improvement can help others think about other changes in the workplace and be more willing to consider your ideas.

Related: How To Create an Innovative Culture at Work

3. Review counter-arguments

When you have a suggestion, think about all the reasons your manager may say no. Reviewing counter-arguments and planning your rebuttal lets you prepare to have a respectful debate with others in the workplace. Resistance to change is normal, so make a list of logical reactions to your idea. Develop a solution for each one to be proactive and show your dedication.

4. Prepare your research

Introduction innovative ideas to a stagnant workplace can be challenging, so prepare with data-driven research and evidence. Look up how similar changes improved business operations at other companies. For example, if you want to suggest using a new software system, gather data about how the system helped other companies save money or gain more customers.

5. Ask for a meeting

Approach your manager and ask to schedule a time when you can meet to discuss your ideas. Determine how much time you need to give your pitch and answer questions. Giving your supervisor notice that you have an idea shows them it's important to you and that you put thought into your presentation.

Related: What To Include in a Meeting Request (With Template and Examples)

6. Project positive results

Tell your manager about the potential benefits the company can get from the change. Explain how your research applies to your specific department and how you came to those conclusions. Describe how long you expect before seeing results and what kinds of benefits the company can enjoy in the long term.

7. Schedule your own time

Show your dedication to the project by explaining any personal effort you want to contribute to making the change. This can include adjusting your schedule or working overtime to overseeing the project. Explaining how to accomplish your goal while completing your current responsibilities can reassure your manager.

8. Suggest a trial period

If your supervisor is unsure about the change, ask for a trial period where you temporarily make updates or only apply the change to a certain project. Explain that you want to gather data about the project, and if it doesn't produce results, you can switch back to the original method. This gives the manager the opportunity to test something new in a way that's comfortable for them.

Explore more articles