How to Create Change Respectfully
Written by Jocko Willink
December 30, 2021
We’ve all heard the old adage, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
But sometimes, something that isn’t necessarily broken might still need fixing.
Why? Because it’s not working as well as it used to.
As an industry, we need to make sure we can be sustainable for the long term. And this means we need to be able to adapt. We need to make the changes necessary to fix the things that aren’t working the way they once did.
But the thing about change?
Change can be really hard to implement. Because change often makes people uncomfortable.
So when something needs to change, how can you create this change most effectively? And how can you create this change respectfully?
The Dirt World’s recruitment problem.
Recruitment is easily one of the core problems facing the Dirt World today. And it’s a big problem — because America needs us to build stuff. And if we don’t have enough people to build the stuff America needs, that creates a long and obvious list of problems. So it’s easy to see why it's an issue we need to figure out.
Recruitment is an example of a process that isn’t necessarily broken, but still needs fixing. We know the way we recruit isn’t broken, because we’re still able to hire people to work our job sites.
But it’s a process that needs fixing, too. Because we all know it’s tough to hire enough people to do all the work that needs to be done.
As an industry, we need to fix this recruitment problem so we can achieve sustainability for the long term. And we can only fix this problem by creating change.
Ask earnest questions.
If you’re seeing this recruitment problem in your own company, you already know things need to change. But as a leader, you don’t want to be like the kid who comes in and tells the person who’s been using this process for 50 years, hey, you’re doing it all wrong.
So how do you create this change in a way that limits friction and resistance?
According to Willink, you can create change respectfully by asking earnest questions. It’s an approach that needs to be used with care, because sometimes even earnest questions can sound like a setup. And the last thing you want is to come across like you’re trying to make a sale.
How should you go about it then? “You go in and you ask an earnest question that’s for your own benefit,” Willink said. “So if you want to change the way they recruit, you ask them how they’re recruiting people. You say to them, how are you educating people so they understand that they should come work here? What are you doing to make this happen?”
And when they tell you? Frame the solution you’re proposing in a way they’ll understand. For example, let’s say you feel it would be beneficial for your company to use Snapchat for some of its recruitment efforts. How should you suggest this change respectfully?
“You say to them, have you ever thought about how most kids these days communicate on Snapchat?” Willink advised. “And maybe they’re like, what the hell is Snapchat? And you say, it’s a communication mechanism. Do you ever text people? Yeah, well, Snapchat’s like texting. It’s how kids communicate. They use Snapchat.”
From there, you can ask if they’ve thought about putting some of their recruitment material on Snapchat. “You see, when you do it like this, you’re asking real questions,” Willink said. “Earnest questions. You ask those questions, and you see where it goes.”
Change is how we improve our world, how we grow and succeed. But people can be resistant to change — and you’ll have a much harder time creating change when you can’t get your people on side.
If you’re seeing that your company needs to change how it goes about recruiting people, how do you create change without causing friction? You take the time to ask earnest questions. Real questions. And then you use these questions to structure the framework that leads to the change you want to implement.
Changing your business is the first step to changing the industry. You can make not only your company but also the Dirt World a better place to work. And you can change how people see blue collar work.
That said, you can't do either one alone. You're human after all, and humans are made for community! Better Dirt World is a community that's working to make the Dirt World a thriving industry for the long haul. Its members are helping pave career paths, raise awareness about the industry, recruit the next generation of the workforce, and so much more.
Written by Jocko Willink
December 30, 2021