January 29, 2015 by Roman Ožana

How to Embrace Change at Work

As we’ve mentioned before, we apply Agile concepts and methods in our development process. In other words, we try hard to promote team flexibility to new developments or problems, as well as adaptive planning throughout our development and delivery cycles.

To really drill things down, we try to be open to change.

Recently, we came across a great post by Diana Mounter on Medium about the positive benefits of being open to change in the workplace (it’s well worth a read if you have time).

And with that in mind, we wanted to share some of our own tips about how to embrace change and build a better workplace.

Your Workplace Affects Performance

Having a healthy (and happy) work environment is extremely important. Where you work, as well as your team and company culture directly impacts your performance.

Jessica Pryce-Jones, founder of iOpener and author of Happiness at Work found that a happy worker is a productive worker.

The happiest people at work are:

  • 180% more energized than their colleagues
  • 155% happier with their jobs
  • 150% happier with life
  • 108% more engaged
  • 50% more motivated
  • 50% more productive

Things like improving your office space, building trust between colleagues, and offering extra perks go a long way towards fostering a happier work environment.

However, we’ve also found that being able to handle change well plays an important role in creating a healthy workplace.

So, what can you do to be more open to change at work?

Be Flexible to Change in Product & Process

As an Agile team, we’re used to product changes. Testomato is in a constant state of iteration. This means that we are always reworking, testing, reviewing, and adapting Testomato.

We try to apply this not only to our product, but to our development process as a whole. At Testomato, we review our development process through the use of a Scrum practice called a sprint retrospective.

Retrospectives are a meeting during which a team can reflect on their way of working and continuously improve they way they do things.

Some key elements of retrospectives include:

  • Full team participation
  • Discuss what worked and what needs improvement
  • Prioritizing actions and identifying lessons learned
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution

The focus of these meetings are how a team is building together, rather than on the overall product. Everyone is given an opportunity to comment on new changes, suggest ways to improve workflow, and address problem areas.

Clear Communication About Change

Learn from our mistake.

The Problem

After Testomato first launched, we weren’t always great at communicating with each other about changes being made. This led to inconsistent support, surprises during development, and rushed or sloppy preparation from all of us.

This is how we fixed it.

We decided to make a point of sharing our work with each other and opening up better communication channels.

One of the biggest advantages of working in such a small team is everyone naturally mixes together, regardless of whether they develop, handle product, or deal with support.

Here’s what we do now:

  • Our meetings are never “development only”. Everyone attends daily standups and retrospectives.
  • We use Confluence to share ideas, discuss feedback, and follow our roadmap.
  • Our entire team has access to our Kanban board for a better understanding of our workflow.
  • Team chat in HipChat allows us to check in, deal with real-time issues, and ask questions no matter where we’re working.
  • Everyone helps problem solve and offers feedback on new ideas.

As a result of these changes, we have plenty of chances to brainstorm together as a team, and we all have a clear picture of what everyone is working on.

We’re able to solve problems more quickly, offer perspective from each of our roles, and we always have an open channel of feedback.

Don’t Be Afraid of Change

It’s important to be supportive of each other when it comes to change so everyone feels safe to adapt and get comfortable. If people are afraid of making mistakes or have fears of failing in a work environment, it makes it harder for change to happen.

Sometimes, you need to remind yourself and the people you work with – making a mistake does not mean you are a mistake.

A practice that has helped us a lot as a team is having a daily standup. During these 15-minute morning meetings, we try to share problems that might be keeping us from moving forward in our tasks.

Here is a basic guide to a daily stand-up:

  • Meet daily at the same time and place
  • All project members must attend
  • 15 minutes long
  • Team members present 3 things:
  1. What I’ve accomplished since the last meeting
  2. What I plan to get done today
  3. What obstacles are preventing me from making progress
  • A scrum master / facilitator teaches the team about the stand-up and enforces the process, but isn’t in charge of the meeting

It’s a really important time for our team to share our challenges (as well as our successes) with each other.

Ask Questions When Change Happens (And Be Honest)

Change is inevitable – you can’t avoid it. A big pivot in development, a change in your team, or a change in your schedule can often feel disruptive to your routine at first.

For example, we welcomed a new product owner, Monika Šmídová, to the team at the start of January.

It’s been a time of transition: we’ve been reworking our schedules, reviewing and making changes to our current development processes, and Monika has done a great job of getting up to speed on Testomato!

Here’s our advice when it comes to tackling change as a team:

Ask questions about it and give honest answers!

One of the scariest things about change is the feeling that something is new and unknown. Encouraging each other to ask questions helps ease the focus away from the disruption and turns it into a learning process.

We’ve always found open communication to be the best policy. It brings everyone closer, builds trust, and makes change a positive experience, rather than a stressful one.

Image: Andrea Nigels

What has helped you embrace change as a team? 

Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook. You can also tweet us directly @testomatocom.

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