Saving Employee Engagement to avoid Employee Resistance

4th July 2019

To engage employees you need to eliminate resistance by getting employees to do tasks because THEY want to do them. When you find yourself continually nagging them to get things done it’s a sign that they’re not engaged. When you pile pressure on top of this resistance you’ve got yourself a very unhappy and unmotivated member of staff.

Why do employees resist?

Resistance happens for a number of reasons which include:

  • The employee isn’t clear on what needs to get done
  • They are scared of failing or the unknown
  • Worried about losing control of their tasks and their routine
  • An employee doesn’t feel competent enough to do the task
  • The staff member is too busy
  • They don’t feel valued for the work they do at the moment, so they feel demotivated to take on any new responsibilities
  • They feel like they don’t have the right support
  • There are internal politics which are making your employees angry and resentful

When you pressure your employees when they are feeling like any of the suggestions above, you are just creating a ticking time bomb which is disastrous for employee engagement.

How to overcome resistance

You can’t force people to do something they don’t want to do (well you can but it will make everyone’s life harder.) The key is to get the employee to want to do the task for themselves rather than for you. To do this there has to be something in it for them which gives them meaning and motivation.

Set goals

Set goals and create action plans which you and the employee have both agreed on which help them to develop in their career in the long term. Say, for example, you carry out a performance review with an employee and in order for them to progress, they need to put more time and effort into their customer care. By creating a tailored plan for them which will help them progress in their career, it makes them more motivated to do the things which you ask them. Rather than just saying can you help your customers more.

Value their work

Would you be eager to do lots of new tasks when your boss doesn’t even bat an eyelid or say thank you? To avoid employee resistance you need to really show them that you value their work. A simple “thanks for doing that (name)” really goes a long way in motivating employees to want to do tasks so they can feel valued and appreciated. Oplift’s Achievements allows you and other colleagues to send stickers and trophies when you think an employee has done a great job.

Make it clear that you are there to help them

A massive reason for employee resistance is fear of failing and just generally looking incompetent at their job. You need to let them know that you are aware that they might make mistakes and it’s ok if they need to ask for help. Say something like “I know this is a difficult task, so don’t worry if you need to ask for my help.”

What you should never do to try and fix employee resistance

  • Never impose goals that you and your employee haven’t agreed on. They need to be invested in the goal as much as you are.
  • Never manipulate the situation to get what you want as this will make you look disingenuous and controlling.
  • Don’t leave the employee to their own devices because you don’t want to irritate them anymore. The key is to communicate with them to find out what their barriers are so that you can fix them. If you leave them alone it also means you won’t be there to reward and recognise them which is essential for overcoming resistance.

A great leader should be able to work out why their employees are resisting what they are asking them to do and solve the problem. After all, if you don’t understand your employees you are never going to be able to engage them.