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Ask Linda: Managing Change

Linda offers some suggestions to help managers prepare employees for change

by Lab Manager
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Dear Linda,

The laboratory I manage has recently made the decision to begin converting a number of our processes from manual to automated. While this will only affect a dozen or so of my staff, I am worried that their concerns about being replaced or having to learn new skills will prove upsetting to the entire group. Any advice you can offer for helping myself and my team through this change would be greatly appreciated. Just so you know, there are no plans to reduce the size of our workforce.

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Dear Oscar,

People tend to focus on the perceived pain that a change will cause and not on what they may gain from it. Below are a few suggestions to help your employees prepare for and focus on the benefits of change:

  • Changes should be communicated as far in advance as possible, with a focus on being transparent and providing a clear strategy with timelines and desired outcomes.
  • One-on-one communication is especially important in alleviating individual fears, addressing misperceptions, and showing employees how they will directly benefit from the change.
  • Take into account all the hidden agendas that your staff have for their own personal and professional lives. By listening to these concerns, you can structure the change to respect these individual needs.
  • It is essential to directly engage your staff in the change process to create group ownership. This can be as simple as asking them for technical input on a proposed change.
  • Avoid micromanaging the change process and let the experts in the lab decide on the tactics to get there.
  • Focus your energy on getting group buy-in from the staff members who are receptive to change.

Good luck.


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