Office of Culture and Experience

Leadership: Change in Perspective

July 13, 2017 • Leadership

How do ideas die? Is it lack of buy in or resources? Do people generally not respond well to new ideas or change? I think part of the problem is how we, as supervisors, present the information.  We must present processes as opportunities versus orders handed down as something new to do. My opinion is that if we allow all team members in on the decision making process, then the opportunities will be much clearer.

My own journey through this process has been full of enlightening moments. I took my first management job here at the age a 23 after working here one year. To say I was “wet behind the ears” was an understatement. I had a good grasp on the processes in my own department, but I was very green when it came to managing people. On top of that, my first group of employees where folks who I had worked side-by-side with for the past year (many of them who had been at HSC over 15 years). This had both a positive and a negative impact . On the positive side, I already knew my people. On the negative side, I was going to have to transition all of them to look at me as there supervisor versus just being their coworker. Here I was a year out of my undergrad, doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing, and it scared me to death. I remember bringing new ideas and processes before my 9 employees and they automatically rejected them by saying, “We’ve always done it this way.”

So, I had to decide how I was going to approach this to get buy-in. Was I supposed to run in guns-blazing not allowing any feedback and just say, “This is how we are going to do it and that’s it?” No. For my management style, I quickly learned that I would immediately get more buy-in if I showed empathy towards the individual(s) who rejected the idea and gave them reasoning of why I thought we should try the process my way. I also learned that when my employees had a say in what we were doing, they would generally be much more open to trying new ideas.

The grand scheme of my implementation worked and I found my employees being much more open to new ideas. Part of this was required humility on my part. I had to own my mistakes to my team and openly admit when an idea I had was bad.  By incorporating their feedback as well, it allowed my team members to let their own ideas be heard, attempted, and even implemented in some cases.

In conclusion, if we allow others to be part of the process as well as witness and review the process, not only will we have more acceptance of a process, but it also improves the likelihood of it succeeding.


Seth Willmoth

Director, Facilities

2017 HSC Fellows Candidate