10 tips to deal with employees resistant to change

employees resistant to change
employees resistant to change – image courtesy Nappy @Pexels

Every team needs new ideas. But some employees are resistant to change. You need old-hands, not dinosaurs.

The trouble is some people get stuck in their ways. They can frequently be quite resistant to change. Change upsets them. New routines may be resented. That’s perfectly normal.

But if you are charged with implementing change management, the last thing you want is to have to micromanage employees resistant to change. No one wants dinosaurs.

Here are some tips for dealing with employees resistant to change. You’re going to come up agains this situation more than once in your career. It’s time to master it now.

1 Avoid making assumptions

Give old-hands the of the doubt. Withhold all judgment until you can see things from their point of view. Seek first to understand, then to be understood as Stephen R Covey suggested.

2 Share the full picture

More experienced employees have seen managers come and go. They are likely to be adept at navigating corporate BS. So be willing to give them the full picture. 

3 Be frank and honest

I resent it when people try and dress problems up as opportunities. If something is going to be difficult, costly or require changes, don’t tell people up front. Honesty is the best policy.

4. Understand motivations

Your team’s “dinosaurs” have likely “been there and done that” a number of times and, as people age, their motivations change substantially. What motivates them at this stage of life?

5 Ask for feedback

Don’t see opponents to change as adversaries. If you can get some key people from their ‘camp’ on side, you are more likely to be successful in enlisting their peers. Ask for feedback

6 Ask them to mentor

Use the wisdom and expertise of senior members to provide best practice and sage advice. Arthur C Brooks believes that people have more to offer others in the second stage of life.

7 Look for replacements

Enlist their help in designing a succession plan. This will subconsciously alert them to the fact that no one is replaceable. It’s not a warning but it can be very (very) effective.

8 Choose your battles

Choose your battles. You can waste lots of energy fighting people on insignificant things. If people choose to be uncooperative, they are going to make your job of replacing them easier.

9 Invite outside criticism

360 feedback and anonymous evaluation can work wonders. People may disagree with what you say but when you present the findings and opinions of others, that can be high effective.

10 Leverage peer pressure 

Leverage the help of someone’s colleagues if one person refuses to change. It’s amazing what peer pressure can do. It’s a hell of a lot easier than trying to change from the top every time.


When it comes to employees resistant to change, it’s important to approach older, resistant employees with empathy and understanding. Read this bit again.

When you avoid assumptions, share the full picture, are honest, and understand deep-set motivations, you can effectively communicate the benefits of change. 

Utilize their wisdom and expertise by asking for their feedback, seeking their help in mentoring or designing a succession plan, and leveraging peer pressure if you have to.

Remember to choose your battles wisely and invite outside criticism to help facilitate change in a positive and productive way. You’ve got lots to do!

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