How to Turn Employee Resistance into Results

Published on 12th December 2018

Photo of employees high-fiving

Employee resistance can feel like a roadblock: It slows down efficiency, growth and ultimately, success. However, many leaders fail to see that resistance can actually be used to improve their organization and bottom line.

How is this possible? According to internal communication experts at True Digital Communications, resistance reveals what employees are concerned about and what’s holding them back. Once leaders understand the cause of the resistance, they can help their employees maximize their performance.

What Causes Employee Resistance

Resistance oftentimes coincides with times of organizational change – even if that change hasn’t happened yet. Sometimes simply proposing change causes pushback because employees don’t know what to expect or don’t have the full picture.

While it’s natural for leaders to want to ignore these complaints and keep employees out of the loop of decision making, drawing out the resistance will ultimately lead to better results.

4 Ways to Turn Employee Resistance into Results

In their blog, True Digital explains that leaders should think of their employees as a cup. If the ‘cup’ is full of resistance, then there is no room for whatever the organization is trying to add. Leaders must get the resistance out before they can fill the cup with new ideas and changes.

To draw out the resistance and turn it into insights for growth, leaders must:

1) Listen to WHAT employees are saying

Leaders must listen without judgment and avoid viewing the matter from their perspective as employees are speaking. They must not block, defend or argue against employees’ points. Instead, leaders should show people they are listening by giving them full attention when speaking.

2) Draw out resistance with specific questions

General questions won’t get to the root of the resistance. Leaders should ask questions that touch on the specific points people are making. For example, “What concerns you about the time involved for the project?” lends itself to a much more fruitful response than simply asking, “What are you worried about?”

See two additional methods for addressing employee resistance and improving your organization in the blog from True Digital Communications.


True Digital Communications is a digital marketing firm founded in 2011 with a team of senior marketing professionals. Located in Bedford Heights, Ohio, outside of Cleveland, True focuses on data-driven strategies to produce results, effectively connecting your world online and off. True’s Face2Face Communication Learning program provides leaders with tools and training to improve internal communications and employee engagement.

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