Employees Who Challenge The Status Quo: How They Make A Difference?

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In the corporate world, employees who challenge the status quo are often seen as disruptors. These individuals question existing norms and push for innovative solutions. Businesses can benefit greatly from these challenger employees.

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This article explores ways in which companies can encourage and support employees who challenge the status quo, fostering a culture of innovation and growth.

DISRUPTORS – That is how we label employees who challenge the status quo. While this may be seen as a negative trait by some, it is a very good thing for businesses and their employees.

Employees who challenge the status quo can help create positive changes in organizations, which leads to improved productivity, creativity, and innovation. In this blog post, we will explore how employees who challenge the status quo make a difference in their organizations and how to encourage this behavior in your workplace.

“Any business today that embraces the status quo as an operating principle is going to be on a death march.” – Howard Schultz

While it’s great to have employees who think logically and question the status quo, they must do it in the right way.

This was the key point made by Leigh Buchanan, editor at large of Inc., in her talk at the 2017 Inc. 5000 conference. According to Buchanan, questioning the status quo is what prompts innovation, and innovation is what leads to growth. But while anyone can have an idea, implementing it effectively is another challenge altogether.

To encourage innovation, Buchanan suggested creating an environment where employees feel safe taking risks. This can be done by celebrating failures as well as successes and giving employees the freedom to experiment. Leaders also need to be open to new ideas and be willing to change their thinking.

Fostering a culture of creativity and risk-taking is essential for any organization looking to grow. By encouraging creativity and risk-taking, companies can tap into the innovative potential of their employees and drive growth.

What is a status quo?

In the simplest terms, the status quo is the current state of affairs. It’s what is currently happening, and it’s usually used to describe a situation that is not ideal. The status quo can be changed, but it usually requires a lot of effort.

There are a few different ways to think about the status quo. One way is to see it as a baseline. To make progress, we need to first understand where we are starting from.

“Status quo, you know, is Latin for ‘the mess we are in’.” – Ronald Reagan

Another way to look at it is as a default. We often default to the status quo because it’s comfortable and familiar. We don’t have to make any decisions or take any action. Finally, the status quo can also be seen as a constraint. It’s what’s holding us back and preventing us from reaching our goals.

Why do people challenge the status quo?

People challenge the status quo for a variety of reasons. Some people challenge the status quo because they want to make a difference. They believe that change is possible and that things can be better. They are not content with the way things are and want to do something about it.

Some others challenge it because they believe that the status quo is unjust or wrong. They believe that everyone should have the same opportunities and that everyone should be treated fairly. They want to make sure that everyone has a voice and that everyone is heard.

Lastly, some people challenge the status quo because they are curious. They want to know why things are the way they are and why things have always been done a certain way. They want to understand the system and see if there is a better way to do things.

How can employees challenge the status quo?

Employees are the lifeblood of any company, and they are the ones who can challenge the status quo. However, many employees are hesitant to do so for fear of retaliation or because they don’t feel that their voice matters.

Employees must feel safe and comfortable challenging the status quo. They need to be able to speak up without fear of retribution, and they need to feel that their voice matters. Management must create an environment where employees can feel free to share their ideas and suggestions. Only then will employees be able to challenge the status quo and improve the company.

At work, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Employees might feel like they don’t have the power to trigger change. Break these barriers at work. Encourage employee participation and innovation.

Here are three tips for employees to challenge the status quo at work:

man in black jacket speaking up at a business event to question the status quo
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  • 1. Speak up. If you have an idea, share it. Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings or offer your opinion.
  • 2. Be creative. Come up with new ways to do things and propose them to your manager or team.
  • 3. Take risks. Sometimes you have to take risks to challenge the status quo. If you’re not afraid to push boundaries, you can make a big impact at work.

How can employers encourage challenger employees?

Employers can trigger innovation in their companies by encouraging challenger employees. Challenger employees are those who are not afraid to speak up and offer new ideas, even if they are unpopular. They are essential to driving innovation, as they are not afraid to push the envelope and take risks.

Create an environment that allows employees to take risks and challenge the status quo. This can be done in a few ways:

  • 1. Promote creativity and risk-taking.
  • 2. Encourage employees to share their ideas.
  • 3. Reward employees for their innovative ideas.
  • 4. Celebrate failures.
  • 5. Foster a culture of learning.

Tips for recruiting and retaining challenger employees

The best employees are often the ones who are not afraid to challenge the status quo. They are the ones who come up with new ideas and push their companies to be better. However, recruiting and retaining these employees can be a challenge.

Here are a few tips for attracting and keeping challenger employees:

Look for people with a growth mindset.

People with a growth mindset are always looking to learn and grow. They are open to new ideas and aren’t afraid of change. They are also more likely to challenge the status quo and take risks.

Offer them a challenge.

Challenging employees is what motivates them. Make sure they have tasks that push them outside of their comfort zone.

Encourage them to speak up.

Challenger employees often have great ideas, but they may not always feel comfortable sharing them. Encourage them to speak up and contribute their ideas.

Promote them.

Challenger employees are often competitive and thrive on recognition. Promote them when they do a great job and give them public accolades.

Promote a culture of innovation.

If you want your employees to challenge the status quo, you need to create a culture of innovation. This means encouraging your employees to come up with new ideas and supporting them when they do. It also means giving them the freedom to experiment and make mistakes.

Offer training and development opportunities.
women colleagues gathered inside conference room for a team training session
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Employees who feel like they’re constantly learning and growing are more likely to challenge the status quo. That’s why it’s important to offer training and development opportunities. These can include things like online courses, workshops, and conferences.

Promote creativity and teamwork.

Employees who feel creative and supported by their team are more likely to challenge the status quo. Promote creativity by offering creative incentives and rewards, and promote teamwork by encouraging open communication and collaboration.

Example: A tale of two companies

Throughout history, there have been countless examples of leaders and employees who challenged the status quo and helped their company become more successful. In some cases, these employees were able to achieve great things by simply speaking up and voicing their opinions. In other cases, they took more drastic measures, such as resigning in protest or staging a walkout.

Regardless of the methods they used, these challengers helped improve their companies by challenging the status quo. They made their voices heard, and as a result, their companies became more innovative and productive.

This post on the website of Gilroy Associates narrates the tale of two companies:

  1. A company that succumbed to the status quo: Compaq
  2. And that successfully changes course: Computer Discount Warehouse (CDW)

While Compaq knew they had to take drastic measures and rethink their supply chain cost model, they stuck with the status quo. They continued to lose market share, lost valuation, lost customer trust and had to sell the company at a massive discount to their competitor Hewlett Packard.

For CDW, their visionary and challenger founder stepped down as CEO of the company in a shocking decision to all. He realized that he was great at building and starting things as an entrepreneur but wasn’t the best person to lead the company forward.

He stepped down, handed over the reins to an experienced professional who had been at the helm of United Airlines. The results validated his decision. CDW’s revenues soared past the $10 billion mark.

Do you have any challenger stories to share? Please share the story in the comments section below.


If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better and if there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work. If man feels small, let man make himself bigger.

Hubert H. Humphrey

Employees who challenge the status quo and drive growth and innovation are often called “challenger employees” or “disruptors”. They are essential to a company’s success, as they are the ones who question the way things are done and push for change.

Challenger employees can come from any level of the company, but they typically have a few things in common:

  • Passionate about their work and want to see the company succeed
  • Not afraid to speak up and share their ideas, even if they are different from those of their colleagues
  • They are not afraid to take risks

Challenger employees are a great asset to any company. They drive innovation and change.

However, they can be a bit of a challenge to manage, as they are disruptive and outspoken. But if you can harness their energy and creativity, they can be a huge asset to your company.

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By BMB Staff

Business Management Blog is your online resource for business management and strategy articles, insights, ideas and tools. We talk about Business Management, Strategy, Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Leadership and Career Growth. Subscribe to the blog to get updates about new posts.


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