Dealing With Change

Anyone who works in the Software Industry knows that at some point they will need to cope with change. Consider the move from desktop computers to laptops, or from BlackBerry devices to iPhones. We all want advancements in software, but sometimes that means that we will need to change what we do. Have any of the following stories happened to you?

  • You are the sole QA Engineer on a software team, responsible for testing everything the developers create and writing test automation. Now your manager is telling you that the whole team should own quality, and that the developers will be testing each other’s work and writing automation. Your job is to the be the Quality Coach.
  • You have written UI automation for years, and your product has hundreds of UI tests. But there is a new policy that says you can only run a single end-to-end UI test, and the rest of the tests should be unit, integration or API-based.
  • You are a Selenium champion; you know how to locate even the trickiest elements. But your company has decided to support Cypress instead. You have always written your tests in Java, and you don’t have any experience with JavaScript.

It’s hard for everyone to deal with change! In this post, I’ll outline seven steps for dealing with the inevitable changes you’ll encounter working on a software team.

Step One: Don’t panic
This step is good advice for practically everything. While it may seem that the changes on your team are cataclysmic, and you won’t possibly be able to adapt, remember that changes usually don’t happen overnight. You will have time to learn whatever new strategies you need to deal with the change.

Step Two: Have a (very short) pity party
Often the changes that are thrust upon us are not changes that we agree with. We may think that our company is going in a terrible direction, but our warnings have gone unheeded. Whenever a change happens that I’m not happy with, I take 30 minutes to an hour to pout about it. I feel really sorry for myself. Then I tell myself that there’s nothing I can do about the change, and that I need to begin to move on and adapt. Taking some time to mourn can give you the emotional energy to move forward.

Step Three: Set an achievable goal
One thing that can really help us cope with change is to set a goal to work towards. It gives us a feeling of control and something that we can look forward to. In the case of the third example above, a person who is a Selenium expert can set a goal to take a course on JavaScript or Cypress in the next month. As you gradually learn something new, you’ll feel more like you can cope with the change.

Step Four: Do a little at a time
Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. Moreover, you’ll still likely have your usual work responsibilities while your organization begins to change. Set a goal for yourself to work just a few minutes a day on learning a new skill, adapting an existing test, or trying a new strategy. Little changes each day can add up to big results.

Step Five: Use the magic of the Internet
When I was first learning test automation, there were very few resources out there to help me learn. Things are SO different today! Whatever you need to learn, I guarantee that there is a course out there that can help you learn it. And if you don’t like the course you’ve found, you can find a new one that works better for your learning style. Consider using Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, W3 Schools, or Test Automation University, to name just a few great learning sites.

Step Six: Ask for help
Sometimes people in technology feel that they need to be seen as knowing everything. This is so dangerous! The best coders and testers I’ve known are the ones who ask lots of questions, and who aren’t afraid of looking silly for not knowing something. When I ask a question in a technical meeting, nine times out of ten I find that most of the other people in the meeting were wondering what the answer was themselves, and they were just too timid to ask.

One caveat to this step, however, is that you should always try answering questions and solving problems yourself before asking for help. Don’t be that person who gives up and says they can’t do it on the first try! If you work on a problem on your own for a while, you may find that you can arrive at the answer yourself, which is a great confidence-builder.

Step Seven: Buddy up
No one works in a vacuum! We are part of software teams so that we can help each other. If you learn best by learning with a group, assemble a group of people who need to learn the same thing that you do and work together. This is especially helpful when you are learning a new coding language. People can share the problems they’ve solved so that no one has to “reinvent the wheel”.

The one thing that’s constant in life is change. By applying these seven steps, you’ll be able to cope with any change your company or team presents you with.

6 thoughts on “Dealing With Change

  1. Stella M'Mukindia

    Thank you Kristin! This article is very helpful and i find myself here today, after my former team joined another team, to be one. Changes! Changes! It can be hydrating sometimes.

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