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Employee is resisting change? What to do

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in Centerpiece,Leaders & Managers,People Management

employee ignoring bossOne of the most sensitive areas for any supervisor is introducing change to an employee.  

While a supervisor can’t avoid making the change, he or she should try to reduce any potential trauma. Employees tend to get very defensive about their jobs, particularly the veterans.

How the change is presented to them will determine whether they see it as a threat or an improvement.  Allowing an employee to learn about a major change in his or her job from a work order is the worst kind of supervision.

If a supervisor takes a few minutes to explain the reasons for the change and the benefits for both the employee and the company, it might be accepted with more equanimity.

Of course, an act of insubordination must be dealt with. But the company would be far wiser to issue a written warning and welcome the employee back to his or her job. It would be a lot less expensive than ­having an arbitrator or a judge make the same decision.

Here are three points to keep in mind whenever an employee says “no” to a legitimate work order.

  1. Attempt to find the reason for the refusal. If you simply answer his or her “no” with a direct order, you can’t avoid a confrontation. A little understanding at this step of the process can save a lot of grief later.
  2. You can overcome an employee’s resistance to change by anticipating his fears and bringing his ­objections out in the open. Always give the reason for the change and try to emphasize positive aspects. But be honest. There isn’t anything positive in a change that’s going to cost an employee his or her job.
  3. Always follow up on a change, even when it seems to have achieved initial success. Maybe a further refinement will bring even better results. Or you may uncover problems that hadn’t even been thought about when the change was introduced.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

rick maurer September 24, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I like that your post takes resistance seriously — and that you don’t blame the person resisting which is a common mistake.

I created a 3-part model of resistance that seems to help my own clients anticipate and avoid resistance or see what’s going wrong when resistance is in full flower.

Those three parts are: I don’t get it. I don’t like it. And, I don’t like you.
Translated: lack of information, fear, and lack of trust.



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