How to Create Change Respectfully

Chances are that you’ve been around long enough to see some of the core problems that plague the Dirt World, like its people problem. And you probably see some things the industry—and your company—needs to do to become better.

Identifying those areas for improvement is important, because America needs the Dirt World. If you don't build stuff, no one else can live the lifestyles they do. So you have to figure this out. You need to make sure you can be sustainable long-term.

But doing that takes change. And you don’t want to be the person coming in telling the leader who’s been doing this for 50 years, “Hey, you're doing it wrong.”

So how can you create change most effectively? Leadership expert Jocko Willink weighs in.

Ask earnest questions  

Jocko often tells people to “ask earnest questions.” That’s because this one piece of advice works in any situation.

For example, let’s say you’re struggling with a recruitment problem. You ask the HR manager, “Hey, how do you educate people so they understand that they should come work here?”

That’s a great question. It’s open-ended, meaning the person has to think about an answer instead of just saying “yes” or “no.” And it’s sincere.

Set questions up the right way

Jocko warns, “You gotta be careful because sometimes even earnest questions can sound like a setup. Like a sales call, right?”

That’s one of the quickest ways to shut down a conversation. And that’s not what you want. You want an open conversation, because that’s what leads to real change.

So you’re not just after a quick answer, and you’re not asking phony questions to try and make someone do what you want.

An example of an earnest question

Let’s say you’re talking to someone about recruiting. Jocko gives an example of how asking an earnest question could play out in this scenario.

You: Have you ever thought about the fact that most kids communicate on Snapchat?

Them: What’s Snapchat?

You: Oh, it's a communication platform. It's private, and that's what kids use.  So have you ever thought about maybe putting some of recruiting stuff on Snapchat?

Maybe they hadn’t thought of that, and now they start recruiting on Snapchat. Or maybe they already tried it, and it didn’t work very well. Now you can put your heads together to figure out if you should try it again or try something new.

“So you're asking real questions and seeing where that goes,” Jocko explains.


The key to creating change respectfully is to ask earnest questions.

You’re not trying to trick someone into doing what you want. You’re genuinely asking questions so you can learn and work together to create real, positive change.

Change is how we improve anything in life. And making changes in your business is the first step to changing your industry for the better.

You can make your company and the Dirt World better places to work. You can fill your talent pipeline while changing how people see blue-collar work.

To help you do that, we created Better Dirt World, a community that's working to make the Dirt World a place where people want to be. We're helping pave career paths, raise awareness about the industry, recruit the next generation of the workforce, and more. And we want you to be part of it!

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