by Alessandra Scomparin

It might seem a mere lexical matter but, as an HR professional, I don’t feel comfortable with facing “resistances”. I would rather think that each one of us, in a particular moment, can act at his/her best.


Well, truth to be told, it has not always been like this. Years ago, when I started my job as an HR professional, I used to think differently and, therefore, behaved differently. I was such a strong believer of the equation “change = opportunity” that I genuinely thought it was actually like this for everyone. I wasn’t absolutely taking into consideration that maybe, the person who was resisting the changes was, in fact, trying his/her best to change without being able to.


All this really hurt me. I faced difficult clashes with colleagues, bosses and subordinates, and I still carry the scars with me. It might seem obvious but those situations really made me believe that everyone — taking out of the equation the ones in bad faith — does things at the best of his possibilities.

Changing is difficult, both for the Person and the Organisation he/she belongs to. Why don’t you ask yourself:


Changes oblige us to consider other perspectives that we have never acknowledged before. This feeling is also known as uncertainty. We cannot control anything where uncertainty is a master. Fear makes us blind and, if we are blind, how can we see opportunities? We just see black — and war is therefore served.

Who likes losing control on his/her activities, on the role they are playing within the firm, on the life/work habits?

Well, nobody, obviously, myself included. And, I am pretty sure, you do not want that either, you HR professional, no matter the type or the dimension of the company you work for.


Of course. It all starts with you when you become conscious of these reactions. You need to realise and accept that confusion and fear are absolutely normal when the atmosphere in the company starts changing. Awareness and acceptance are the first steps you can take to start embracing uncertainty without letting it devour you. They will also help you in teaching this skill to others.


In the last twenty years I have been facing very varied types of resistances but they all belong to two main categories.


It is typical of those individuals who sit down and, with a very pessimistic personality, act as sacrificial victims. They do not bother that much — true — but, soon enough, they become a problem for the whole business. You, as an HR professional, need to find out their Moving Motivators to generate a spark and reinvigorate their enthusiasm and energy.


These people are the one who constantly try to sabotage the plans and they are against any type of change quite consciously. What they do not fully understand is the reason at the base of their opposition — that fear to lose control that takes ownership of their actions.


The way in which they demonstrate their fears to us, the HR people, are very, very varied. Here are some of them:

  • Gossip, this is typical of the ones who always are against any single thing you are trying to implement. They cannot wait to gather all the unhappiness of the most unenthusiastic employees to then blab them to everyone as if those were the words of God.
  • Refusal, it’s the most common one, also known as “we have always worked in this way”.
  • Postponement, easy to use because it is associated with other urgent matters. He/She usually makes his/her statement in a clean and elegant way, saying things such as “What a lovely idea! Such a shame we don’t have the time to do it now”. Please tell me, which firm on earth does not have urgent matters to tackle and a market to comply with?
  • Indecisiveness, the ones of “yes, it could be but we really need to think it thoroughly”.
  • Nit-picking, when every single detail is analysed and analysed since perfection is a must — which often leads to paralysis — and analysis!
  • Regression, “such a silly idea! Let’s leave it and go back to work!”.


In a complex system such as a business, no-one will ever find himself/herself in the position of being able to control every single detail. And it is on this last point that us, the HR professionals, play a key part: we need to create and shape favourable contexts for letting people organise themselves within their teams. We need to learn how to concentrate on the bigger picture letting the details to be developed by the individuals.

This is the only way to actually be a well rounded HR business partner and help the firm in accepting uncertainty as a key factor of the organisational life. Only by accepting the unknown your fear and resistances will be reduced.

HR people: let’s start working and let’s go straight to the point.

Originally published at on March 4, 2019.



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