Resistance to change can power the change itself. By overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace, leaders can create intentional and heartfelt change.

Change is the beating heart of innovation, making overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace an essential part of any change management strategy. 

If your team members are hesitant to accept change, the key is to transform how that change is communicated and perceived. Leaders can humanize change to transform how their team members embrace new ways to work.

Overcoming Employee Resistance to Change in the Workplace

In this article, we explore overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace with the following topics:

  • The Upside of Resistance
  • Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change
  • `Leading Heart-Felt Change

The Upside of Resistance

Change management is a science. While many organizations fear the pushback ahead of new changes, this sort of resistance can have an upside: Employee resistance to change can power the change itself. 

In overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace, leaders become more intentional about change and meeting their employee’s needs.

When faced with resistance, leaders should consider questions such as:

  • Will this change drive significant growth?
  • How can I best communicate changes to my team?

The upside of resisting change comes through recognizing the downside of change. Ultimately, resistors can better identify the risks of a change and how it may negatively impact the status quo. By understanding what resistance offers, management can determine how to strengthen their change initiatives and shore up any holes in their efforts. 

Overcoming Employee Resistance to Change in the Workplace

Strategies for Overcoming Resistance to Change

Overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace goes beyond simply changing your team members’ minds. Once you understand the roots of employee resistance to change, you must meet your team members where they are and consider how to best meet their needs before implementing new changes.

Consider the following strategies for overcoming resistance to change:

1.Listen First, Talk Second

Overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace starts with a simple act: listening first. 

While communication is essential to any change, the way information is communicated changes everything. 

Oftentimes, leaders will initiate change from the top-down, telling their employees of impending changes as they happen. Before making any changes, practice listening first and speaking second. 

Leaders can gather more information using this listen first, talk second practice. This is especially crucial in overcoming resistance in the workplace. This way, your employees have a chance to initiate conversation and share their concerns about change. Moreover, your team members will see that you truly hear what they say.

2. Explain the Reasons for Change

In addition to using active listening to overcome resistance, leaders need to effectively communicate the reasons for change by discussing the new initiative’s why, how, and what. Fight resistance by creating a communication plan that targets your audience and responds to their wants, needs, and fears. As you highlight why a coming change will benefit your team members, you’ll see employee resistance start to wane. 

Change Explorer


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This template helps you and your team acknowledge, process, and ideate ways to explore the change at hand together.

3. Feel Excitement

Resistance to change is often a response to how a change feels. When leaders feel positive about a change, they can easily transfer that excitement and curiosity to their team. In your plan to overcome employee resistance to change in the workplace, communicate each change wholeheartedly with enthusiasm and joy. Though the future may still be unclear, knowing that the change will bring a positive outcome is key in shifting the tide from resistance to eager acceptance. 

4. Center Your Employees

Your employees are the key to overcoming resistance to change. Centering your team at the heart of every change will shift their perspective on what is to come. Make future initiatives all about your team by approaching from your employees’ perspective. 

Consider designing your change strategy with user adoption and implementation in mind to ensure your focus is primarily on your team members. Remember, it’s not just about what the change will bring. It’s about what your team will be able to do once the changes occur.  

5. Design a Culture of Change

Change isn’t a one-off experience in the workplace; it’s a necessary constant for any thriving organization. Start overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace by creating a culture dedicated to change. Facilitate change management by training team members to become change leaders. These influencers will act as role models to help transform your company culture into an environment committed to change. 

6. Use Data

Data offers employees a logical way to approach change. Coupled with emotional responses to changes, the right change management metrics can significantly bolster your approach to fighting employee resistance. Leaders can rely on insights and hard facts to bolster their change strategy. Give your employees access to the metrics of change and show that the results speak for themselves. Strengthen your change strategy using KPIs such as performance improvements, ROI, usage reports, observations of behavioral changes, and employee satisfaction results. 

7. Implement Change in Stages

Battling resistance to change lies in implementation. Leaders that work to implement change all at once can easily overwhelm their team members and incite even more resistance. 

Make sure your employees are prepared to accept change by giving them a chance to warm up to new initiatives with smaller changes. Implementing changes in stages allows your team members to meet each challenge one step at a time, learning how to navigate the new shifts as they go. 

8. Practice Change Experiments

Experimenting with Change


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This template provides you with a transparent process and framework to experiment with change.

Change experiment exercises are another way leaders can navigate overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace. Leaders can initiate simple experiments that help their team prototype the coming change. These experiments help participants explore what the future change looks and feels like. 

Overcoming Employee Resistance to Change in the Workplace

Leading Heart-Felt Change

The most successful changes are grounded in empathy. Empathy creates a safe space where team members can share their fears about change without fear of backlash. Leaders should spearhead overcoming employee resistance to change in the workplace by implementing heart-felt change

Practice empathy in your change management by emphasizing the following practices:

  • Observation 

“Listen” with your eyes to transform the way your team accepts change. This form of active listening allows those speaking to feel heard and seen. This practice offers others the chance to forge a stronger relationship with members of leadership. Once your employees feel as though they are truly valued team members, you’ll see their resistance to change begin to wane.

  • Learning

A learning mindset makes us more receptive to change. Though we may feel uncomfortable with what’s to come, fostering an eagerness to learn more and do more is the key to overcoming employee resistance in the workplace. 

Leaders can emphasize this state of learning by maximizing individuality in the workplace. Encourage diversity of thought by engaging our team members in discussions surrounding change. With increased intercommunication, your team members will learn through engagement as your employees actively become part of the transformation process. 

  • Positive Intent 

Positivity is the driving force behind overcoming employee resistance in the workplace. Developing a practice of assuming positive intent is one of the best ways to overcome potential resistance and barriers to change. 

Exercising positive intent allows team members, leaders, and all parties of an organization to believe the best in their colleagues and trust that their actions are driven by good intentions. As the challenges of change crop up, assuming positive intent allows all participants to put their efforts toward achieving the greater good. 

Employee resistance to change can be challenging at first, but it gives leaders a chance to create change from an entirely different perspective. At Voltage Control, we are here to help you change in a new way. Contact us to learn more about thriving through change. 

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