Don’t Let the Whiners Win

“My problem,” explained a manager, “is two of my good performers have dug in their heels against a proposed new service for our customers.  Focus groups have suggested the service would add unique value to our product offerings and the financial risks are minimal.”

“Have you visited one-on-one with the two individuals to answer their questions and persuade them to get on board?” I asked.

“Yes, several times.  Every time I provide a good answer to their concerns, they bring up another issue.  It is very frustrating. They whine loudly and publicly, and I fear they may turn others against the project.”

“So, you want to know how to deal with the two whiners?” I asked.


“My response is ‘Don’t try.’”

For most changes, you can expect prolonged whining from ten to fifteen percent of the members of a team.  Efforts to persuade the resisters seldom succeed; in fact, influence attempts will likely motivate whiners to continue.

Many team members will understand and support well-thought-out changes, but they may not be verbal in their support.  Effective leaders reduce resistance and increase support by paying more attention to members who are on board while offering scant attention to whiners’ push back. 

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