Chapter 49. Leading Through Rapid Change Is Normal

Yvette Pasqua

Do you feel like you’re constantly leading your team through one change after another? Have you wondered when it’s going to end so that you can get back to your “normal” job of managing teams to ship software? Well, the truth is: the change is not going to end.

As managers in the tech industry, we need to lead our teams through constant, rapid change, whether it’s technical, cultural, or business change. Our growth industry requires us to be comfortable with high ambiguity and rate of change.

We need to be able to solve problems, inspire, and motivate teams with positivity during change. This is challenging, often thankless work, that doesn’t show up in performance reviews or Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). There’s rarely training, so what can we do?

Here’s a framework to help you lead teams through change. It has two components:

Time phase
Where is the company at in the change timeline?
Leadership qualities
What type of leadership does the company need?

Time Phase

There are three time phases that require different things from leaders:

Acute phase
The month or two following an event that typically triggers rapid change (because there almost always is one), such as hiring a new CTO, an acquisition, or closing a round of funding.
Rapid phase
The next and longest phase lasts several months. It is the period ...

Get 97 Things Every Engineering Manager Should Know now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.