Got an employee that won’t move with the times?

Got an employee that won’t move with the times?

One of the most common challenges I hear when providing Leadership Training and Coaching is resistance to change.

Employees that resist change are often perceived as the problem that holds everything and everyone back.

Many of us have worked with at least one person that always finds a fault in proposed changes, and refuses to buy-in or comply.

Sound familiar?

At POD HR and Training, we are performance improvement specialists and we work with leaders and their employees to achieve the best results, maximising performance and profit.

We’re also NLP Practitioners and Trainers, which means we have in-depth knowledge and vast experience of using language to connect with employees at a deeper level. I can understand beliefs and values that shape their decisions and behaviours at work.

This means that we can provide leaders with the tools to overcome employee resistance.

In my NLP Training, I was taught this: There are no resistance people, only inflexible communicators.

Now, you might be thinking that this simply isn’t true. There are absolutely resistance people, I hear you!

However, by embracing this, even in part, it enables you to improve what you get from people because it encourages you to find the right key to open the communication door.

I know the importance of innovation and bringing people in your organisation with you. I wanted to share some valuable language tools and techniques that will help you get inside your employee thought process and influence at a deeper level.

Team of people working together at a desk

Know what is important to them (their hot buttons)

How can you influence someone if you don’t know what’s important to them?

It’s like someone trying to sell you something before they know if you’ve got any need for it. Have you experienced that?

Every time you speak to your employees, you’re influencing their thinking. Your words matter.

It’s useful to get into the habit of asking before you tell. Enquire before you conclude. Establish need before you present a solution. I have no doubt that you can see how this makes sense!

So, you might be wondering…how can I know what’s important to them?

When you find out what’s important to your employees, you’re accessing their values. It’s surprisingly simple!

All you need to do is remember a few specific, yet simple, language patterns. Like this:

“What’s important to you about your career?”

Easy, right?

Now, to build on this. You need to master how to speak to the deeper mind and get the truth out.

Part of that is rapport. (You can find out more about the secrets of great rapport here.)

Part of it is the tone you use – of curiosity and sincerity.

And finally, your intention.

Intention is everything. People can subconsciously feel your intentions. So, before you have the conversation, work on creating a genuine intention to understand your employee better for their gain as well as your own.

When you do this, you’ll know if you’re getting the truth from their values system if their answers are quick, short, and fairly big picture.

An example of this would be words like:

Communication, trust, autonomy, connections.

All of these words could mean different things to different people. They’re not sentences, they’re powerful words. They’re the individuals ‘hot buttons’.

You can find out more about how to elicit and work with values in our article here.

Once you know them, you can use them to influence.

For example, when you speak about a new change or project, you can say something like:

“I have an idea for a change to our processes which I’m confident will enable us to have more communication and trust.”


Just in that first sentence, you’ve got them listening because you’ve pressed their hot buttons. You can put emphasis on these words too which will engage the deeper mind.

Once you know what’s important to them, you can align changes with what that means for them and their values. As long as they can see the connection, they’ll be open.

When something hits the values, it’s irresistible to a person.

Make a proposed change irresistible.

Employees talking about changes in their work and figuring out how to manage the new processes

Hierarchy of ideas

If there’s resistance, there’s a positive intention behind it on some level.

The NLP Language Pattern of the hierarchy of ideas helps you to establish why the resistance is there and therefore overcome it.

There are 3 questions you need to ask:

  • For what purpose?
  • What is the intention of that?
  • What will that get for you?

Let’s run through an example:

“I don’t want to change. The current process works fine, I want to keep it the same”

“Okay. For what purpose do you want to keep it the same?”

“It’s easier”

“Okay. And what’s the intention of making it easier?”

“Being happy at work”

“Okay. What will that get for you?”


This enables you to see what the person needs in order to change their view.

So, you could say this:

“Okay. So as long as you could do the work easily, whilst being happy and confident, you don’t mind how you do it?”

If they say yes, all you need to do is agree how the proposed change could be easy, create happiness, and keep them confident.

To do this, you could say:

“Other than keeping this process the same, what other ways can we help you to make things easier, help you feel happier, and develop more confidence?”

If you meet their needs in a different way, then they’re less likely to stay stuck in their original view.

The key is finding the purpose for the resistance and looking for other ways you can meet their needs, along with your own organisational needs.

This pattern of communication is highly effective and I’ve solved countless conflicts using this technique.

There are other ways you can gain buy-in by speaking the language of your employees and being an influential leader, which I’ve written about here.

If you want other tips like this, you can sign up to receive The People Expert weekly email where you’ll get a new technique to try out in your business every Monday!

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