top of page
Mediation Teamwork

Leveraging Mediation to Address
Change Resistance to Resilience

Understanding resistance in organisations
Businesses that are unable to transform effectively through change often find that their initiatives fail due to employee nonalignment in varying ways. I’m often called to reach out to root that employee voice that feels disengaged in different ways with the change, so much so that they opt out, shut down or simply check out from the change management process altogether. In other cases, within the mediation process, I have also identified leaders have been known to struggle in their roles, decline to take ownership and lead the charge for effective change for the organisation, whether adaptive or transformational
Often change is viewed in an organisation as a defensive mechanism, push back, resistance.  It’s a perfectly human condition to protect what you already have and view an initiative with some suspicion, even going someway to sabotaging a project, particularly if it’s going to impact the employee in one way or another. So, what do we see? A façade which prevents a move forward to take the business to a place of transformation or adaptation to the making of an organisation better than what it was before.
Addressing the fear of the unknown
In my experience the most effective strategy is getting employees engagement at the earliest opportunity. Quite often as a mediator I’m brought in as a last resort when things have gone pear shape with the change and often looked as an afterthought, when the buy in should have been considered at the top of the agenda, not as an appendix.
As you are embarking on the change initiative, you would want your employees to be on the same journey and align with the organisations vision, rather than displaying some sort of resistance. Springing a business initiative on employees where they have no context or preparation, in my experience of cases is not a good idea.  As you involve employees it would be a good idea to let them know why  the change is needed ahead of time, so that they are mentally prepared for it. So instead of being met with contempt, employees will now be curious and nudge naturally career to resilience.
Overcoming resistance strategies and approaches
So as you involve employees along the resilience road to the buy in for change explain the following:
  • What is the change?
  • Reasons for the employee involvement
  • Think about the objections you may encounter from the change.
  • How are you to handle them ahead of time?
  • Identify the opportunities for them to transform the organisation.
  • Deliver the value and vision of the change with tangible results.
Proactive management of change concerns
Suggested tools for the engagement of employees in a change management initiative that might be impacted:
  • Early involvement
  • Let employees share some change initiatives for you to implement
  • Considerations
  • Feedback to questions
Transforming feelings of resistance into resilience through mediation
Let me give you an example. We mediated on a case which involved a management initiative at a nursery school operating over three sites. The change involved how the nursery managers’ daily supervision would function for cover for each of the sites.
The change over time had a profound negative impact on the health and mental wellbeing of some of the employees and their ability to carry out their roles effectively and manage safeguarding capabilities to high level.
As part of the way to moving forward, within the mediation process, we helped to provide the involved employees the opportunity to share part of an action plan devised by them to senior management which could be implemented into the initiative and be beneficial for the organization. The ability to show resilience was evident that the employees were keen to be engaged, knew what worked for them to perform well at work and helped with the change buy in. The nursery took the feedback on board, compromised and overtime, the plan worked to help the change initiative succeed.
In the change management journey, flexibility is a key aspect of mediation. The case study is a good example where an organisation moved from resistance to resilience. Flexibility can allow organisations to adapt to unexpected challenges.  The organisation’s change initiative complemented the considerations of employee involvement, sharing of ideas, plans and responsive to feedback.  Flexibility also encouraged the organisation to be more open minded towards new ways of working. As a result of the collaboration, the nursery overtime, sprung back into shape, gained and improved employee engagement and productivity.
So you can see, business can overcome intentional or unintentional resistance and transform the change into natural resilience.  With that will be the ability to accelerate, be robust, endure, progress and most importantly employees can share and buy in on the change initiative and help it to succeed.
There you have it. I hope you leave this article with a bit more confidence in pitching for your change management initiative and getting everyone involved bought in or even excited.
What are your thoughts and what strategies would you recommend for overcoming situational resistance to move towards resilience? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Winnie Onyekwere LLB LLM
If you’re struggling to manage change resistance in your organisational, adaptive, or transformational changes, contact us to see how we can help you through our mediation service address resistance to change and promoting a culture of adaptability, collaboration, and confidence towards sustainable success. Feel free to request a discovery call.

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page