Monday, August 9, 2010

Positive Change

Sometimes good things happen, and how we deal with the good changes is just as important as how we deal with the negative changes.

Case in point: I just promoted someone on my team to QA Lead. (Congratulations, John!) He's been around for a few years as a QA Engineer, and when the slot opened up, he stepped up and asked for it. He's going to do really well at it: all in all, this is a positive change.

It's still a change. And we still have to be a bit careful about it.

There are a few things we need to look out for here:
  • Making the transition (aka getting through the change itself)
  • Broadcasting the change
  • Providing autonomy
  • Providing support
So what did I do? In this case, I left. I went away for three days on vacation and didn't answer any emails or phone calls that the new QA Lead should be able to handle. Instead, I just forwarded everything his way. We made the transition by refusing to allow the old ways to work; he did everything the QA Lead should be doing, and I did none of it. Because he was publicly responding to requests, we broadcasted that this was his area now. And by simply forwarding things without telling him what to do, he got autonomy in deciding how to respond. Privately, any questions he sent me, I answered, thus giving him a safety net in deciding how to respond.

In a nutshell, we need to make the change actually happen. In order for the new way to take effect, the old way needs to be put behind us. So we took away the old way (me) and left only the new way (the new QA Lead)... publicly. Privately, we established an open line between the old way and the new way, so that the new way had all the information he needed.

When we make a change, even a positive one, we need to address the change directly to make sure it goes smoothly. Let's keep the positive, well, positive.


  1. Beautiful example of how a good mama bird kicking baby bird out of the nest and watching protectively as it flaps safely to the ground... as she knew it would.

    It's true though, "change management" is not unique to code... in fact, I think it's been around since before anyone imagined code, let alone it's application to code!

    Most people find change uncomfortable and stressful. Not always "bad" stressful, but stressful nonetheless. Interestingly, I've often observed that the most stressful part for the majority who are feeling uncomfortable is dealing with that odd-ball who seems to be comforted by change.

    Of course, I've often observed that because very often I *am* that odd-ball.

    Thanks for sharing this. Too few Leads & Managers in "testerland" receive any leadership or management training at all during their career (let alone before their first lead or management assignment). Were I still in a role where I had leads and/or managers working for me, or if I find myself in that position again in the future, I would absolutely make this post required reading prior to assuming a lead or management role.

    Well done & brilliantly written!
    Scott Barber

    Chief Technologist, PerfTestPlus, Inc.

    "If you can see it in your mind...
    you will find it in your life."

  2. Catherine, I beleive that your way of responding to a change is quite effective, I really liked this approach

    autonomy is the key .