Change Implementation Approaches – ‘Tell’ versus ‘Sell’

Updated: Apr 10, 2021

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.

Change Implementation Approaches – ‘Tell’ versus ‘Sell’, Peter F Gallagher Change Management Speaker, “If you do not change the employee mindset and behaviour, you will not get organisational change” ~ Peter F Gallagher, Peter F Gallagher Change Management Expert, Change Leadership Alignment, a2B Change Management Framework, AUILM, a2B5R®, a2BCMF,


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

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

Ranked #2 Business Strategy Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (Dec 2020) by Thinkers360.

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

Business Book Ranking

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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