Change Agent or King of Status Quo? Which Are You?


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Aren’t you tired of hearing customers complain?  Tired of low productivity and high payroll costs? Tired of watching your service scores fall month after month?  What are you doing about it?  Are you a change agent or the king of status quo?

change agent or king of status quo

A successful business is dependent upon the unwavering ability to identify challenges, evaluate a new course of action and put into effect the processes and procedures to make it happen.  You must be willing to change as needed…until it works!

Sadly, too few are willing to put in the effort to do this.

We sit through many unproductive meetings discussing the issues at hand but never come out with tangible solutions and an action plan to improve.  Why is this?

What role do you play in your organization?

The King of Status Quo

“Oh, things will never change”.  “I doubt he (the boss) will want to do it”.  “We’ve always done it this way”. “But we tried that already”.  “It’s not in the budget”.

Do these statements sound familiar?

Characteristics of Status Quo

Your job is to perform the individual responsibilities as listed on your job description.  Nothing more, nothing less.

You keep your head down and refuse to rock the boat.  I’ve heard you say “It’s my job to do what the boss wants!”

You dress in subdued tones and your desk is sloppy.  Ideas come slowly and have little impact. Someone other than you is responsible for the direction of the team/department. You rationalize-away mistakes.

You’re dismissive of those willing to try something new and those who accept change.  You fear retaliation from superiors if you stray from the norm.  You’re afraid of failure.

But what if the status quo follower is your boss?  What do you do?

Your supervisor demands your loyalty and distributes responsibility freely.  He expects your compliance regardless of the challenges faced.   Timetables are developed and discipline given when tasks are not completed.  He doesn’t seem to “get it”.  “There are better ways to do this”, you say…

He listens to your ideas but rarely acts upon them.  He explains the difficulties in implementing your new procedure and recommends your patience.  He sits mute during your presentation and collects your data, which is never seen again.

Your status quo supervisor will probably have a job for life.  There is no need to assume otherwise.  He’s “steady”, a “solid player”.  He always flies under the radar.

Will things change?  I doubt it. 

But those higher up need this.  They fear the young upstarts with their wild dreams and “careless ideas”.  The BIG boss has an ego to feed and it feeds off the spark of those with initiative.

All ideas must come from him.  He knows all, his ideas are best.  He uses his position of power to his advantage.  Need something done, call the big boss for approval.

Fear begets fear and apathy abounds. Soon, ideas are stagnant and productivity suffers.  Revenue is next.  But the status quo is still followed.

The Change Agent

There are a few, willing to look at situations far differently those most.

They have a swagger, a confidence and an ability to make things happen.  These are the “change agents”.

Characteristics of a Change Agent

A change agent doesn’t live in today’s world; he/she looks toward tomorrow when improvements are already put in place.  Change agents quickly see when something doesn’t work and knows by experience and practice how to fix it.  He’s dissatisfied with the status quo and unwilling to accept apathy and inaction.

If something’s broken it must be fixed right away.  No need to wait for approval or a vetting process.  You carry your passion on your sleeve and are willing to plow through road blocks to implement your ideas.

A team-builder, motivator, a take-charge personality are terms associated with you.  Subordinates trust your judgments and will follow your lead.  You have proven your worth time and time again.

You’re called a contrarian; willing to go against popular opinion – and you’re not afraid to do so.  Others may think you’re crazy but you don’t care.

Mounds of paperwork sit with ideas hatched out of frustration of the status quo.  You “know” what’s wrong and “need” to fix it!

You can:

  • Clearly identify the issue(s)
    • How does this affect the customer?
    • How does this affect employee morale?
    • How does this affect payroll?
    • How does this affect revenue?
  • Drill-down to the root causes
    • Why is this happening?
    • Where are we falling short?
    • What are we forgetting to do?
    • Where are the checks and balances?
    • Is there built-in redundancy?
  • Develop new procedures and modifications to correct current practices
  • Align coworkers and subordinates to form a team-based improvement effort
  • Set an implementation schedule that is closely followed and monitored
  • Adapt and adjust as needed

There is a cause and effect in all we do.  Change agents understand that their success is dependent on providing value to their customers, supervisors and investors. 

Holding fast to the status quo doesn’t create value nor does it provide solutions.
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The legacy of a business leader is not shaped through fear or inaction.
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It is steadfastly developed through a consistent improvement process subject to the desire and aspiration of those willing to embrace change and strive for the best.

So, are you a change agent or king of status quo?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve DiGioia
Steve uses his 20+ years of experience in the hospitality industry to help companies and their employees improve service, increase morale and provide the experience their customers' desire. Author of "Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift...Even If You're a Bad Waiter" and named an "ICMI Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leader" and a "Top Customer Service Influencer" by CCW Digital, Steve continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.


  1. Hi Steve: your blog got me thinking . . . how much do service organizations spend annually to maintain quality assurance? i.e. to keep constancy and consistency in the products they deliver. I don’t know the answer, but it seems that quite a bit of management effort and resources are thrown into not-change. I, too, like the visage of the hero change agent, but could we be downplaying the contributions made by those whose job objectives are centered on the more humble – but possibly more difficult – job of preserving the status quo?

  2. Hi Andrew,

    You too touch on a great point: status quo (product or operational standards) are very important, especially in the manufacturing, tech and medical industries. Varying from the norm (status quo) can be disastrous. But improvements can be made to the most “perfect” product or service.

    My intent was more on following existing norms versus clearly articulating ways to think out of the box and identify areas for improvement.

    Thank you.


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