Getting People On-Board with Change

We have a couple disgruntled employees, who don’t like change. They’re good workers who generally support the company, and I value their overall contribution. But lately we’ve had to make some significant changes in how we do things to meet customer demands. How do I get these employees over the buy-in hurdle, so they can do their best to contribute?

Thoughts of the Day:  As owner of the business, think through your role. Build work groups that have the authority to implement Let employees work through the “how” of implementing changes. Draw on successful experiences to build confidence. Don’t be afraid to talk about the downside of sticking with the past. Show employees how personal growth links with superior personal and business outcomes.

You are responsible for creating conditions under which the company can best succeed. Focus on long term value, innovation and sustainability. Get clear yourself on what should happen short and long term for the company to prosper. Share the big picture with employees – not just the what, but also some of the why.

Instead of trying to solve all the challenges yourself, teach your employees how to innovate by building their confidence that new ways of doing things will lead to a stronger future. As an entrepreneur, owners get that risk taking and opportunity go together. Not all employees have the same inclination to take on risks. Doing what has always worked seems way safer to some employees. You’ll have to appeal to their desire for overall success, while demonstrating that the past ways will no longer lead to successful outcomes.

Draw a picture of what can happen if things don’t change. Lost customers, lost revenue and profit, lack of future opportunity all translate into fewer jobs, lower pay, and lack of longevity for the company and the people who work for it. Remind people of how important it is to embrace change.

Listen to the obstacles and challenges they voice. These are real concerns that they need to overcome to move forward. Don’t try to solve the problems put forth, but instead ask for ideas on how to overcome those challenges. Give people time to brainstorm and work through issues that come up, rather than forcing speedy change.

Use examples of when employees have successfully solved problems and created solutions that helped the company. Help employees build confidence by focusing on past examples of innovation that led to real breakthroughs. Give people time to adjust to changes by asking them to discuss, brainstorm, innovate, solve, and then ultimately to implement.

Change is hard in most situations and for most people. Fear can paralyze a person. Not knowing how things will turn out and fear that new things will end badly can cause people to avoid trying to change. Pain however can be a motivator as we human beings are wired to avoid pain and seek circumstances that make us comfortable.

Habits are actions we’ve learned to repeat, usually because those actions lead to successful outcomes. When circumstances change and old habits no longer lead to success – that’s when conflict arises between taking a risk to try something new or continuing to repeat a formerly success producing habit even though it will likely deliver diminishing or even negative returns.

Finally, remind employees that their personal success and the company’s future are intimately linked. Appeal to their desire to do well, individually and as a group. Pick team leaders who are good at facilitating discussion and helping others focus on what wins can look like.


Looking for a good book?” Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability”, by Faisal Hoque and Drake Baer.


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