Anyone who has worked with or for me knows that I have a few things that will set me off. Perhaps at the top of the list is the statement “we’ve always done it that way.”

As an employee and consultant, I have often been called in to look at businesses and figure out how to grow and improve them.

This process starts with understanding what the team is working on and how they execute specific tasks.

All too often I am told “we’ve always done it that way” when I ask why something is handled a certain way.

That’s a terrible answer.

It’s a terrible answer because it shows that the team member likely doesn’t understand the rationale behind the original decision.

It’s a terrible answer because it assumes that inertia is a valid management approach.

It’s a terrible answer because it demonstrates that the team probably isn’t doing enough to reevaluate its own processes and priorities on a regular basis.

The reality is that businesses change — and the way that we execute our responsibilities likely needs to adjust, too.

If you find yourself saying — or even thinking — “that’s the way we always do it” then it is probably a good signal that you need to hit pause and dig deeper.

Understand how and why you do what you do.

Ask yourself if there is a more efficient and effective way to perform a task.

Better still: question whether that task should even still be done.

Purge “we’ve always done it that way” from your repertoire of answers, and you’ll be amazed at what improvements can be made.