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people resist change

How to Manage People Who Resist Change

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Change is happening all around us. Despite any opposition, despite feelings and emotions, change is happening. In the workplace, how do you manage the people who resist change?

Announce the new marketing plan, a strategic direction, or personnel changes, and people will disagree. It isn’t the exception, it is the norm.

Listen and Learn

The people who resist change can tell us a lot. First, they self-identify, which is a management bonus right up front. Second, we have to listen carefully. They may have some good points. When properly managed, they can actually help strengthen the change.

What often happens is that those responsible to manage, or those responsible to engage with the naysayers attempt to smooth over the change, make everyone happy, and find some neutral ground, compromise.

Will Compromise Work

Compromise seems logical. It feels like the right thing to do. Until no matter how hard or how much you bend, shape, and twist the change there always seems to be another argument about why it isn’t the right direction.

Of course, there is always the possibility that they are correct. Maybe it is a bad move. Perhaps, but when you work around the naysayers long enough you may discover that it is the same people regardless of the change.

It is a pattern. Goals aren’t being achieved, problems are occurring, measurements are accurate but the indications are clear that something needs to change. Still, the naysayers find a reason to resist. Management tries to find a way to appease.

People Who Resist Change

So how can you make everyone happy? It could be that what really makes the naysayers happy is to express that they aren’t happy. They want a voice. They want to be heard. Objections and criticism give them a platform.

The dynamics of any change are situational and circumstantial. However, sometimes the best way to make the naysayers happy is to give them their platform and keep moving forward.

Certainly, it is a delicate balance of knowing, understanding, and making good decisions when you are responsible for the outcomes. Listen carefully and learn, sometimes though you just need to keep moving.


Originally posted on December 1, 2017, last updated on October 22, 2018.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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