Changing Processes: How to Handle Employee Pushback

Business leaders encounter a unique challenge in their employees’ resistance to change. The strength of this resistance is often due to a lack of understanding of the benefits that change can bring. You can successfully implement change if you have a plan for each step of the process.

In the business world, change is inevitable. Change is a part of life, but it doesn’t mean you have to like it. Suppose you are a manager in a company. In that case, you will have a certain set of challenges to deal with: having to deal with different political perspectives daily, trying to get the best out of your employees and bringing out their full potential, and managing employee performance, both in terms of good and poor results—also, employee pushback.

What Is Employee Pushback?

Employee pushback is a vocal and/or written objection or complaint by an employee to a process or policy. This may be a sign of growing pains, but it could also indicate a larger problem – a growing issue within modern companies. Employees often have a lot of power since they have access to sensitive data and can sometimes use that power to wield disruption and other adverse effects. Although many employees are generally honest and hard-working, their combined power and lack of accountability can be a real problem.

How Do You Handle Employee Pushback?

If you’re a manager or HR professional, you know all too well how difficult it can be to change a process. Employees push back, slowing the project down and making it more difficult to achieve your goals. Many managers and HR professionals turn to “motivational” tactics to push employees in their chosen direction without success.

To help you more, here are the following ways how to handle employee pushback:

  • Stay transparent. If you run a business, you need to be as transparent and honest as possible when it comes to employee issues. But you must do this in a respectful way that doesn’t alienate your employees.


  • Address the social issues. As you move towards becoming a more productive and profitable leader, you must consider how you can make a positive impact on your organization. As one of your first steps, you should consider addressing social issues as one of the ways you can make a difference.


  • Communicate with the reason behind the change. Communicating the logic behind the change in an efficient, positive, and effective manner. Many people have an innate fear of change, but hearing the “why” behind the change can help put them at ease and allow the change to take place without as many problems.


  • Understand what is driving their resistance. Employee resistance is critical for both managers and employees to understand, especially if you have a big business. One of the major causes of resistance in the workplace is having a bad team member or employee. Employees often feel scared if they know they are being watched. Employees who are low performers or who perform poorly also tend to be fearful of losing their jobs which can cause them to be resistant. While employees sometimes feel that management is not listening to them when they are making suggestions, managers should understand that employees are in a higher position than them and could have better suggestions.


  • Be prepared to manage conflict. Conflict isn’t going away anytime soon, and you have to be prepared to manage it. You can’t look down your nose at employees who have opinions different from yours or the ones who have complaints to voice. This is true whether you’re a leader or a team member.


  • Know how to react. When an employee complains, it’s important to know how to react. Employee pushback is a reality that businesses face daily. You can handle your employees’ pushback in a variety of ways, depending on the situation.


As a small business owner, you have a lot to deal with. The demands of running a successful business can make even the simplest tasks feel difficult, but you can learn how to deal with employee pushback to keep your business thriving. Employee pushback is an inevitable part of working, and it can be extremely frustrating when it happens. It can be worse if the pushing employee is senior to you since they often have more power and experience than you do. When pushback happens, the best thing to do is to listen and figure out how to handle it calmly and rationally.

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