The stubborn attitude that kills our gains and success and how to deal with it

“It is just how we do things here.”

Have you heard that phrase? Did it stick in your mind as a barrier that made you rethink your contribution to an employer or organization? If so, then you are not alone. Some fifty-two percent of new employees hear that phrase often in the first three to six months of their tenure with a new organization. And that is not all. With that phrase in mind, almost thirty percent of the newcomers leave the organization they have joined within less than eight months of departure.

And in a world full of opportunities and a lack of talented people to answer organizations’ needs, the number of those quitting is scary. And to get worse, organizations understand what has happened when the employee is on the exit. In many cases, leavers give a generic answer to the question, “How can we improve?”. But some people are not afraid to be honest, and provide the hard feedback everyone in the organization is not ready to hear. They often are qualified as haters, damaging and not being honest, mainly generated by the ego of those who listen instead of logic and humbleness. And while we have to fight with our ego on many occasions, what most leaders and organizations are missing is the rigid way of thinking and doing things that have become a norm. Even start-ups fail to build attractive environments and engaging processes.

And at the end of a professional journey, many people leave because things are done in a particular way in the organization that does not resonate with their personal internal needs.

Actually, “It is just how we do things here” is an explanation of a culture, structure, and model of working and behaving that has been set as a standard by people who feel comfortable with it and do not see the need to change it. Yes, from time to time, this attitude and model of working and misbehaving may have looked challenging or inappropriate, but people have used to live with it and have gotten into their comfort zone. With all the minuses, the model created a comfortable environment for them. And once heroes of change, most people have become followers of their set standards and limitations. This attitude may have been successful and may still work for the long-term contributors in the organization. Still, with newcomers, it loses its value and becomes more a challenge and stopper instead of a supporter of success. Being taught two different ways, newcomers and traditional organizational contributors fail into conflict, and resolution often leads to both sides giving up and quitting. Usually, the newcomer moves to a place where they can contribute in a way – that resonates with their internal drive for success.

In other words, the comfort created by the “It is just how we do things here” attitude can often break organizations’ plans for change. Not that the change is impossible. It has happened once and can happen again. But this time, whoever wants to change this stubborn attitude and break the comfort, has to find a way to do it by keeping both – new and experienced people in the organization.

In 2021 I joined such a company – a brand leader in several categories on the market with long-term employed people in it. What a great place, you may think. Experience and knowledge in one place. People who know what to share to do your work with them in the organization. Well, I was surprised that it was not this way. People were hiding after old processes, procedures, and excuses. The work level was low, and the result was questionable. And when I started to change that, they challenged me with all they had – negative attitude, verbal and nonverbal aggression, delays in all areas that I asked about something, and final products delivered with a lot of mistakes.

The first two months of my journey with the company were like hell. I thought I could not do anything about the company and was ready to leave them. But after the first two months, the country GM and my Group line manager came to me with the same question – Have you understood the roots of the problems, and how do you think we can change that company for good? That changed my attitude, and I almost decided and focus on change and transformation initiatives. Now, nearly a year after the start, the company looks different, the attitude toward newcomers and various departments is more positive, and enablement and engagement levels are up with o digit numbers.

While this looks like a miracle and unrealistic, I will shortly present the steps I have finalized and got through to achieve it.

Step 1: Collect information about the situation at the current state

You cannot start a change process without having all the information to help you make the best decision. Therefore, collecting as much information as possible is crucial to prepare a detailed analysis of the situation and the environment. Such research should include not only general information about the atmosphere in the organization but has to get deeper into describing different departments and teams, the attitudes, behaviors, mini-cultural norms created, the opposition level in each unit, and what makes people act offensive and defensive.

Step 2: Identify supporters and stoppers of change

Before asking for support or enablement to make the change, you must describe several change triggers. These can be processes that must be changed, procedures to be written or replaced if ineffective, manuals to be created or re-introduced to people, and in the end, people who fit in this new environment and those who are not welcome have to be replaced.

Step 3: Get support and enablement

 In the beginning, many people miss this one step to understanding that senior leadership does not accept or support it after they have started the change. So to ensure that you can make it happen, the change must be fully supported by the senior leadership team. In short, before starting with change, present it to the main stakeholders and ensure that they will keep it. With that support, the change you are planning is enabled to happen. The higher the asset is, the more significant the impact and the lesser the obstacles are.

Step 4: Make all types of changes

When you have to fight with mentality, the most obvious thing to do is change processes so that they can enable people to do different things. But this should be done with the one thought in mind that not everyone will fit into this new model you are creating. No matter the level of enablement you make for others, some of them may not feel comfortable with all the changes. And as early you can identify those who won’t fit in the new environment, the lesser the damage will be. Proportionally to implementing new processes, procedures and instructions you will need to decide what will happen with those not supporting the change. Here it is a good idea to divide all these people into two groups – those who do not support the change but do not work against it and those who actively work against it. The first group is when you may need to invest how much time and resources you will need to turn them into the side of the change. If it is worth doing it, you can start turning them from indifferent to involved supporters of the change. The second group is the harder to deal with. Unfortunately, these people have already decided that your changed organization is not their place. So they may stand and go or play it “quiet killers of the change.” The second role is dangerous because when playing it, these people oppose the positive change, creating a circle of negativity. While identifying such people in the organization, you will need to make the tuff decision to dismiss them.

Step 5: Share success and build on it

Starting a change is hard, but sustaining that change in time is much more complicated than the start. With enthusiasm to finish the difference and create a different environment the mindset changes often lose people along the way and turn them from believers or indifferent to hostile toward the change. While the change motivation is higher, because the change itself means a lot of fo structure as not meaningful them, for others, which are not main actors in this scenario, the difference may motivate and engage others or disengage them in time. In an engagement survey, that can be easily seen within growing enablement for people and lowering engagement simultaneously. To sustain change in time, turn indifferent people into supporters of that change and boost employment, support, and positivity of the original supporters of change, you may need to invest time in “boosting morale.” In other words, that can be explained by establishing a communication plan for the changes and including a celebration of milestones for everyone in this plan. With a consistent messaging strategy and demonstration of a positive attitude toward every change, fear of change is shortly replaced with engagement and support for the shift planned and happening.

Step 6: Re-evaluate all people involved in the change process regularly

While in good shape with all other previous steps, many of us miss that one. People may fit in one part of the transformation process but become tired and unwilling to change in another. Keeping those who get slippy and showing the “It is just how we do things here” in this mood can break performance and change. And in many cases, what leaders and those who come to change miss are that these same people, who have turned from supporters to stoppers of the change, need some work to be finished to show them that there is still a lot of meaning in the transformation plan. Sure, some may decide that they have enough and do not want to change anymore. Others may see their place in the transformed environment as not so exciting, and many more. Finding those who have changed their attitude is a good start, but then the hard work starts. With some of them, a motivational speech or a plan to bring them back on track may be a good idea, but for others who have already given up, supporting them find a new place for work and development may be the best decision. It is up to you as a transformer to decide based on what you see and feel in every case.


Often leaders, transformers, and even experienced consultants see people only as supporters or deniers of change. With that qualification in mind, they tend to build plans to maximize gains from the first group and lower damage from the second. Unfortunately, this scenario is all wrong. People are not like clear and definitive colors; they have nuances. Working with someone is more complex than working on something. However, with the right attitude and flexibility, a transformer of culture and organization can efficiently turn the not working attitude into an energizing and supporting change contribution. Every culture and process transformer may only need a good and non-stopping evaluation of the environment so that they can maximize results from the change they introduce and flexibly fight the stubborn attitude in people for change.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s