how to overcome resistance to change

How to Overcome Resistance to Change – Coaching Employees

Opposition to Change

How do you deal with an employee who prefers the status quo and is resistant to change?  Do you force them to change? Do you let them be? Do you take a more collaborative approach and, if so, what does that look like?  Learn actionable tips on how to overcome resistance to change that you can employ.

The Situation

Mark is VP of Marketing for a large chain of retail accessory stores. Two years ago, he hired Carrie, a young, promising manager in promotions. After graduating college, she got a job promoting special events at a department store. Then Mark convinced her to join his team.

Needs Broader Experience

While Carrie is doing excellent work, Mark is concerned she isn’t getting broad enough experience in retail merchandising to make her a strong candidate for an executive position down the road. But a position to work with the buyers in their company has just opened, and the role would fast-track Carrie’s development. Mark is holding the position for Carrie.

Fear of Changing Jobs

Mark tells Carrie the good news, but her reaction seems less than ecstatic. She has a lot of arguments against taking the role. She doesn’t think she’ll be good at purchasing. She’s in the middle of planning a major event. She’s worried about falling on her face.

Overcoming Resistance to Personal Change

A smart, young manager with lots of potential is being tapped for bigger things. Mark can understand some butterflies about taking on something new, but Carrie seems to have a fear of changing jobs. Is she not suited for executive development? How does he help her overcome resistance to change?

How to Manage Resistance to Change?

Which approach would you choose:

A.  Give up and look for someone else to fill the role. Why invest energy in someone who’s not interested?

B.  Take it slow. Help Carrie find comfort with the new role, and stress benefits that are right for her.

C.  Put Carrie into the role anyway. You know she’s got talent, so she’ll be fine. She just needs a push.

How to Overcome Resistance to Change – a Q4 Approach

Here’s Your Q4 Answer!

Hi. I am Emily Ingalls, Vice President of Organizational Consulting and I have your Q4 answer.

What’s the Disconnect Between Mark and Carrie?

Mark feels like he is handing Carrie a gift–the chance to fast-track her career within the organization. But he’s surprised to see her being resistant to change.

Why Isn’t Carrie Excited about this New Opportunity?

To determine the right answer in the scenario and figure out how Mark should proceed, we have to remember that he’s looking at this situation from his perspective. However, overcoming change resistance requires us to look at this from the other person’s point of view. We need to identify her personal needs, concerns, and motivations.

The Dimensional Model Can Help with How to Overcome Resistance to Change


Dimensional Model of Behavior

Mark needs to consider why Carrie is showing him some Q2 resistance. This resistance can tell us that she is trying to avoid something she sees as risky.

What’s the Q4 Answer?

So, rather than passing up the opportunity and giving it someone else, Option A, Mark should ease Carrie into this conversation by showing her the benefits of the new job. Option B.  Take it slow. Help Carrie find comfort with the new role, and stress benefits that are right for her.

Mark’s coaching strategy needs to take into consideration Carrie’s intangible needs for security, safety, and stability as they wade into the conversation together.

How Can I Use Benefits to Motivate Others?

Each of the Q behaviors can signify different needs that require various benefits to be effective. For example, in this scenario, Q1 behavior might have been intrigued by the status or visibility that came for this new role. Q3 behavior, on the other hand, might shown us some enthusiasm for the engagement and socialization and involvement that came from working with a new team.

How Can We Motivate for Carrie’s Q2 Behavior?

Mark’s benefits won’t necessarily work for Q2 behavior when you see it. In this situation, Carrie isn’t motivated by ego, or socialization. Instead, Mark needs to appeal to her sense of security by pointing out how the new role will broaden her work experience, put her on a steady career path, and ultimately give her more opportunities to solidify her role into the future.

Any Other Tips for Keeping Carrie Motivated and Engaged?

Rather than handing down a plan forcefully, or telling her to take the new role, option C, Mark should help Carrie to develop a strategy for moving forward. He should probe into her concerns and elicit her ideas for how to make this transition as smooth and risk-free as possible.

To Recap…

By using Q4 coaching techniques in this situation, Carrie can approach this new role with optimism and enthusiasm. Mitigating her fear of risk, or fear of failure. Q4 coaching in this scenario can also set her and the company up for better chances of future success. Thanks for watching.

More People Leadership Resources

Now that you have discovered how to overcome resistance to change, explore our other people leadership tips.

If you have challenging behavior to deal with in your workplace, take our Do You Work with a Difficult Person Quiz to learn actionable steps you can take.

If you haven’t read Leadership Through People Skills, it’s a great addition to your library.

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more leadership techniques and upcoming events.

And finally, our penultimate experience is our Q4 Leadership Workshop, available in the classroom or virtually.

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