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Change Implementation Approaches – ‘Tell’ versus ‘Sell’

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Change disruption is the order of the day. Rapidly changing customer buying habits, access to new technology, and social media accelerate the way organisations need to adapt to change to remain competitive or even survive. If done properly, change management is the proven game changer in making this possible. Change management will support the organisation, its employees and leaders to move from the current state ‘a’ to the improved state ‘B’. It can enable and enhance implementation of the new ways of working, behaviour and adoption of the change.

However, the change implementation approach depends on the type of change. If the change is about compliance, legislation or safety it will be a ‘Tell’. If it is about winning hearts and minds it will be a ‘Sell’. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages, and both approaches will encounter some level of resistance.

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Advantages: Speed is the nature of this type of change implementation. The organisation enforces the implementation decision, with consequences for those who do not obey.

Disadvantages: Changes like this are implemented quickly with no time for staff consultation. As a result, people will feel that this change is ‘done unto them’ and it will take longer to achieve buy-in and acceptance.

“Nothing negatively impacts organisation performance quicker than employees who resists change and who believes that the way they work today is the way they will work tomorrow” ~ Peter F Gallagher


Advantages: This type of change allows the organisation to communicate the change in advance, take feedback and gain staff buy-in, winning hearts and minds.

Disadvantages: The process of communicating, involving lots of people and receiving feedback, takes time. This type of change approach takes a lot longer than the ‘Tell’ approach and much more organisational effort.

“Without employee resistance, you will not achieve organisational change” ~ Peter F Gallagher


Peter consults, speaks, and writes on the Leadership of Change®.

For further information please visit our websites:

Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK), Change Leadership, Change Management Global Thought Leader, Peter F Gallagher, Change Management Books, Leadership of Change Volumes 1 2 3 A B C 4 5 6 7, Change Management Fables, Change Management Pocket Guide, Change Management Handbook, Change Management Gamification, Change Management Adoption, Change Management Behaviour, Change Management Leadership, Change Management Sponsorship,

Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Guru, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.

Listed #1 by leadersHum Top 40 Change Management Gurus You Should Follow in 2022 (Mar 2022).

Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (2022-2021-2020) by Thinkers360.

Ranked #1 Business Strategy Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Business Strategy (2022) by Thinkers360.

Ranked #2 Leadership Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Leadership (Aug 2020) by Thinkers360.

Business Book Ranking

Change Management Behaviour - Leadership of Change® Volume 6, listed among the 50 Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2022.

Change Management Adoption - Leadership of Change® Volume 5, listed among year-to-date’s (Jul 2021) most popular books on business and technology from Thinkers360 member thought leaders.

Change Management Handbook - Leadership of Change® Volume 3, listed among the 50 Business and Technology Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2021.

Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.



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