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The challenge of building support for human resource programs

Rick Maurer (Maurer & Associates, Arlington, Virginia, USA)

Strategic HR Review

ISSN: 1475-4398

Article publication date: 12 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to provide human resource (HR) leaders with a practical, straightforward approach to the challenge of building support (and reducing resistance). Building support for new programs is difficult in many organizations, and the cost of failed change is large. HR is not immune to these pitfalls. The primary reason that projects fail is resistance. Resistance itself is not the problem. But, how leaders look at and work with resistance is a significant problem.


This approach is based on some 20 years of practice working with leaders on ways to build support for change. The author has helped leaders apply this approach in HR departments, as well as many other departments within organizations. This approach has been applied in aerospace, healthcare, large city library systems and telecommunications, to name a few.


The key finding is not that this approach is so wonderful, but that the mindset of the leader(s) is the key. When a leader or a leadership team believes that people and their thoughts and feelings actually matter, and that the department is best-served by respecting the people who work with and for them, then building support for change has a good chance of succeeding. The approach described here works well with leaders who want to engage others with dignity and respect.

Practical implications

This paper is meant to be practical. In fact, it invites readers to consider a change they are considering as they read the paper. By the end of the paper, readers should begin to see ways to apply these ideas immediately. Many people apply these ideas without further education or consultant assistance.


Resistance remains a bad word in organizations. (Organization development is a notable exception to that generality.) Leaders often give lip service to engagement and take part in high-involvement activities but fail to follow through. The author attempts to make the work as easy to access as possible, while avoiding simplistic thinking, to give leaders low-risk ways to begin to increase their respect for people (and their resistance). Leaders who try out more respectful ways to engage people are likely to up the ante and experiment with deeper ways of making contact with others.



Maurer, R. (2017), "The challenge of building support for human resource programs", Strategic HR Review, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 131-135.



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