Stop Recycling The Trash

Have you ever walked into a new organization, were excited about the new experience and how you were going to fit into the environment? Then after a few weeks or maybe even months of sitting back and observing the workplace and the employees you start to realize why the organization is in the shape that it is in? You start see why some of the processes don’t work, the new ideas can’t get off the ground or people simply are resistant to change and refuse to embrace anything new.

This exact scenario happened to me. Aside from everything that I noticed, I also realized that people were tired, burned out, overworked, underpaid and in some cases, they felt under appreciated by the high-level managers. This didn’t apply to just my section of the organization, but it applied to a majority of other work centers. Then it hit me. My particular organization was operating the way it was because it was an example of what happens when you try to recycle materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable. We were trying to recycle the trash when it was meant to be thrown away. Meaning, we were trying to reuse or repurpose people and processes that were meant to be thrown away or speaking from a leadership perspective let them go so they can fulfill their purpose elsewhere or simply put the employee or process needs to be fired.

Too many times as leaders we try to keep a process that we know isn’t working or an employee who no longer fits the organization for the sake of being comfortable. We don’t want to “start over”, or we simply don’t want to invest time or energy in a new employee, ideas or processes because it takes too much time or effort up front. With this type of mindset, your work center or organization will never change. Stop recycling old staff members into leadership positions, their habits and attitudes are not going to change. The “new leader” will be the same person with the same habits and attitudes with a pay raise. The internal employee that you are hiring because you know him/her, and you have a good working relationship with this person doesn’t mean they are going to bring more to your organization than they did before. It just means that you know how they work and they will not give you any problems.

It is also our job to make sure that we are promotion innovation.  That means stop using the same process(s), forms, and guidance from 1998 and implement tools that coincide with the present time and up-to-date technology. I know, it is feels great to rely on what we already know but we also have a responsibility to make sure that our employees have the best tool and resources to get the job done.

If you find yourself wanting to recycle an employee or a process that no longer fits the organization remember these three things:

  1. Be Honest: If you know a process is no longer working or a person no longer fits the needs of the organization, it is time to have an honest discussion with yourself, your team or employees to find a new way ahead that that works for all parties involved and the organization.
  2. Take Risks: There are times as a leader when you will have to take calculated risks. It will feel a little unsettling at first because you don’t know what the outcome will be but stand firm in your decision(s).
  3. Bet on New: Hire the new employee who has no association with the old team, keep an open mind when new ideas are presented and embrace change. Every organization can use a fresh perspective. You will be amazed at how your organization will flourish when there is an environment that “bets on new”.

Time waits for no one and employees with new ideas and fresh perspectives that are not being utilized will eventually leave the organization and look for employment with your competitors.

It is time to break the cycle. Stop talking about how much you want change and how you want to improve the organization while holding on to the old way of doing things and old employees with the same mindset from 10-15 years ago. Hire those new employees, explore those new ideas/processes and make the changes your new organization needs.

Taking risks is what leadership is about!


4 thoughts on “Stop Recycling The Trash”

  1. This is such a breath of fresh air! I have gone into many work environments and have been able to point out who’s not working and practical ways of improving. Being hit with a brick wall and not fully understanding until I realized worst case scenario some people just are not open to change and will fight it. Hmm I had to realize just because a person doesn’t see the value of a situation doesn’t mean that that situation doesn’t have it’s value! Often times we can thrive in a new environment because we are able to come in with fresh eyes and to be allowed to be creative that motivates GREATNESS! I will be returning back to a new environment (different leadership and some coworkers) and I know my perseoctive has changed I will use some of the tips you have provided and give feedback!


  2. Thank you very much for this truthful inside… These are tips that I can take it back and utilize within my own organization. Excellent read!


    1. You are more than welcome! Thank you for the feedback. I am glad that you found the tips provided useful. Please let me know how they worked for you when you decide to utilize them within your organization.


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