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This is a great question. But before we can develop a strategy, we have to understand the root causes behind the behavior. Here are some questions I would have about the employee and the process changes:

  1. Did we call his/her baby ugly? In other words, how invested were they in the old process? Did they help design the old process?
  2. How much of the “WHY” did we share with this employee about why the process needed to change? Was there a burning platform? Has this been shared? (Does the new process serve the customer better? Save time? Save money? Fulfill a legal requirement? etc.)
  3. What does this employee have to lose as a result of implementing the new process? Why do they want the old process back? What did the old process do for them? How much was this employee involved in designing the new process?

Another thing we have to reflect upon is: what could have been done differently to minimize change management issues like this? Unfortunately, the reality is that often process changes are done to people rather than with people. We have seen this time and time again. Folks in charge of process change do it in a way that creates resistance. Then, they wonder why folks are not onboard and don’t spend time reflecting on how they contributed to creating resistance. Those in charge of process change need to reflect on what could have been done differently to make it easier for people to support and accept process changes. The best way to do this is to involve them at the beginning and not just at the time of implementation when the new solution is already decided upon and set in stone. Otherwise, change and acceptance becomes very difficult later.

For this employee, find out the root cause, then develop a strategy to mitigate it.

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.