Your organization is facing serious challenges and must be restructured. You as a manager know that your employees will have to go through significant changes. Projects are set up, employees and staff representatives are informed and involved in project work. You strive to credibly convey the necessity of the change and have the feeling that you have reached your staff. Nevertheless, agreed measures are continuously questioned and only half-heartedly implemented. There is definitely a spanner in the works.

There is always a reason for resistance and it always carries a message – often one of the following:

  • You failed to convey the necessity of change in a sufficiently credible way. Nobody likes to change, especially when it isn’t absolutely necessary.
  • The goal behind the change is unappealing or even creates fear.
  • Your staff has had bad experiences with announced changes and therefore doesn’t believe their management.
  • Your employees feel like the change will affect them negatively or don’t expect it to yield any positive results.

When dealing with resistance, it is helpful to get to the bottom of the possible changes as follows:

  1. To what extent are the factual concerns expressed justified?
  2. What specific anxieties are there?
  3. What individual interests could be at play?

In the tips, you will find various options on how to handle resistance based on the different reasons.


  1. Use factual concerns or objections uttered by employees as a source to improve your concepts. Face the confrontation on matters of content and use the opportunity to turn ‘renegades’ into allies.
  2. People who resist because of fear won’t respond positively to factual arguments but will respond to an emphatic approach. Attempt to understand their fears by listening and asking questions. Don’t try to pacify them or play down their concerns, instead face the issues and look for fair and clear solutions!
  3. If an emphatic approach turns out to be ineffective even after several talks, the resistance is probably driven by individual interests. In this case you need to negotiate and make a decision – even if you won’t be able to take all interests into account.