Change Management and Employee Resistance
The choices employees make and their consequences

An excerpt from the the new book now in paperback!
Employee's Survival Guide to Change

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Managing change and employee resistance


Many employees will resist change. How they resist and the choices they make can influence the success of your change project, the impact on productivity and employee morale, and ultimately employee turnover.

In some cases choices your employees make may have negative outcomes. These choices may be bad for you and for them. Other choices they make will benefit them and enhance their ability to thrive in a changing organization.

The Survival Guide to Change presents the ADKAR model, a framework to help employees through the change process. The excerpt provided below presents choices that employees make about change, organized first by choices that typically have a negative outcome, and then by choices that typically have a positive outcome. The Employees Survival Guide to Change then introduces the ADKAR model as a way to influence these choices and consequences. The text is written in second person and with the intended audience the employees undergoing change.

This tutorial is the first in a series that presents key concepts from this new change management book that is based on research with more than 700 organizations world-wide.

Choices and consequences

The choices shown are separated into:

    • Choices with typically negative outcomes
    • Choices with typically positive outcomes

These examples help illustrate the conscious and unconscious decisions we all make regarding change.

Your choices before the change happens during project planning and design stages
(Typically with negative outcomes)

    1. Talk badly about the proposed change with your peers or subordinates.

    2. Talk negatively about the organization or people in the organization.

    3. Talk one way in public, but say otherwise in private conversations.

    4. Stop doing your current responsibilities or do them carelessly.

    5. Have secret meetings with your subordinates where the change is minimized or not taken seriously.

Your choices before the change happens during project planning and design stages
(Typically with positive outcomes)

    1. Learn about the change

    2. Ask how you can help.

    3. Find out what you can do to prepare for the change.

    4. Display a positive outlook.

    5. Encourage constructive conversations with fellow employees.
    6. Be open and honest with your feedback about the change.

    8. Be quiet and curious (This choice is acceptable during the early phases of a change.)

Your choices during the implementation of the change
(Typically with negative outcomes)

    1. Block progress or sabotage the change process.

    2. Talk negatively about the change in private conversations.

    3. Ignore the change - pretend that it is not happening (denial).

    4. Prevent others from participating in the design of the solution or implementation of the design.

Your choices during the implementation of the change
(Typically with positive outcomes)

    1. Ask questions about the future.

    2. Ask how the change will impact day-to-day operations.

    3. Provide input to the solution.

    4. Find out what new skills and abilities you will need to perform when the change is in place.

    5. Assess your own strengths and weaknesses.

    6. Identify training that will be available to fill skill gaps.

    7. Take advantage of the change to develop new skills and grow professionally.

Your choices after the change is in place

(Typically with negative outcomes)

    1. Avoid using the new work processes or tools whenever possible.

    2. Tell peers or subordinates that using the new work processes or tools is not a big  deal and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

    3. Talk negatively about the organization with customers.

    4. Revert to the old way of doing work when problems or issues arise with the change.

    5. Take advantage of problems during implementation to argue why the change will never work.

Your choices after the change is in place

(Typically with positive outcomes)

    1. Reinforce the change with peers and subordinates.

    2. Help the business achieve the objectives of the change (be results-oriented).

    3. Avoid reverting back to old processes or ways of doing work when problems arise with the new processes and systems.

    4. Help solve problems that arise with new work processes and tools.


Many times these choices are made unconsciously. Candidly and openly presenting these choices is a critical step to managing change and employee resistance. 

How employees choose to react to change is also impacted by answers to frequently asked questions that employees have about change, including:

  • Why is change happening now?

  • What is the rush?

  • What will the change mean to me?

  • What are the benefits of supporting the change?

These questions will be the topic of the next tutorial and excerpt from the Employees Survival Guide to Change.

Click here for more information on this topic.

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