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ATD Blog

When Your Change Is Met by Their Resistance


Thu May 16 2013

When Your Change Is Met by Their Resistance-7b82ce8f22a755df8deaa0aa2d5cedc28d4492ad075f8d3d8158c399bdae0783

Most people do not like change. Whether you are a training and development professional or a CEO, if you represent change, then to some people you represent the enemy. Luckily, you can master the switch by navigating your new orders in a way that breaks down others’ hesitations.

**Show Off Your Palms



The first step toward eliminating change resistance lies in your approach. It is important to be considerate, forthright, and most importantly, honest. Let everyone know a change is taking place and that it is completely normal to feel some resistance (this will help lower upright guards). However, reassure your team that by working together you can make this change work well.

Be sure to explain the reasoning behind the change—sometimes a valid point is all someone needs. Also, allow employees to brainstorm other possible solutions. Chances are that they will unearth factors you already considered; still, it is important to give employees a voice. Regardless of the brainstorming session’s outcome, your proposed change could leave you with employees who are resistant, so be prepared for some raised hands.

**Hear Them Out



Keep in mind the natural emotions that come along with change: anxiety, stress, and uncertainty. Employees most likely have worked themselves into a comfortable position within the company and their daily duties. Any inkling of change can make them feel equally worried about changes in perception, demand, and their ability to keep up.

This is why it is important to open the floor for questions, comments, and concerns. Be sure to ask for feedback not with a tapping foot, but with patient, open ears. The process of talking things out will be therapeutic for those most resistant to change. Reach out to shy staff as well, and extend the opportunity to discuss impending change in private if preferred.

**Flexibility Is Your Friend


If ever appropriate, use the word “trial period,” with a deadline set in place. During the trial period, ask that employees keep an open mind and make personal notes pertaining to this new change. Let them know that when the deadline approaches you will gather again as a group and assess the situation as a team, and that only then will management make a formal, permanent decision based on all factors involved, including their opinions and feedback.


People will be more willing to cooperate if you remind them how important their full support is to the overall effort. And remaining open to staff suggestions will prove that you value and care about the community work environment. Approaching change in this manner will help employees to ease into the new wave with as little hesitation as possible.

Change is never easy, but when carried out effectively it can be accomplished with the least resistance. How do you manage change in the workplace?

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