Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (in the workplace)

Humans are not known for being amazing at managing change; at least, there’s definitely been plenty of times where I’ve not been amazing at it. I’m guessing if you’re reading this blog post then perhaps change is something that you’ve often pondered as well. We often cope with disruptive or stressful changes in our life with coping mechanisms but they are rarely early. I call them just-in-time coping mechanisms because we don’t usually know how we will react to a change before it happens, even if we can see it coming. It might be a so-called positive change, but those changes are still very capable of causing stress.

I gave this talk a little while back on this subject and this blog post is the summary in case, like me, reading is more your thing. I looked at the challenge of personal change management from two angles, firstly for leaders who are instigating a change and secondly for those who are impacted by a change. I predominantly focused on workplace changes but you can extrapolate many of these ideas to personal changes as well.

Do’s for leaders of a change

Let’s say you’re the one driving the change. Perhaps you’re leading a change to the processes your team use for code reviews, or perhaps you’re leading the whole team. If that sounds familiar, here are my top tips:

  • Be transparent; share as much as you can and share it in a timely fashion. Of course, as a leader, there may be some pieces of knowledge that you can’t share but the vast majority of the time it’s much better to be open and transparent with what you know (and what you don’t know).
  • Include people; share your leadership vision and why. If people know why you’re changing something, they are far more likely to not only help with the change but have a better experience throughout its life cycle.
  • Lift others up; be aware of whatever privilege you have and help others achieve their goals.
  • Give people choice; change is disruptive, maybe this change isn’t for everyone, always give and respect the choices people make.
  • Celebrate people; even those that leave your team; in fact especially those that leave your team! People leaving is not always a sign of a “bad manager” that’s a sweeping generalisation in my experience. Remember that person will still be talking about you and the company they left years after the event – make sure their memories are positive ones.
  • Plan people’s first day and onboarding meticulously; set people up for success. You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in them to get them to this point so set them up for success at each step of the way. First appearances really do matter. Give them a warm welcome.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

Do’s for those impacted by a change

All of us will find ourselves in this group sooner or later, change is, after all, inevitable. If you’re impacted by a change, irrespective of if you saw that change coming, consider the following tips:

  • Find out more; get in front of it, especially if you didn’t see it coming. It’s vital that you inform yourself and get as much information as you can so you can make decisions as required.
  • Consider if you should cut your losses and move on; sometimes it’s just not worth it. If you’re not sure if it’s for you, give yourself a timescale in which to decide and give some thought as to what you need to find out before you can make an informed decision.
  • Give yourself time and space to the change; remember coping mechanisms are just in time and many things are improved with a good night’s sleep.
  • Don’t be afraid; you got this!

Photo by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash


Finally, here are a few points to remember about change:

  • Change is scary; informing yourself and giving yourself a timescale to respond to that change can help reduce the scariness level.
  • Change is inevitable; you will always be impacted by a change, and sometimes you will be the one driving the change. Try and enjoy it, or even thrive on it.
  • Change can lead to opportunities; sometimes staying put and accepting the change is in your best interests, sometimes it’s not.
  • You control more than you think you do; really you do!

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Five cool features in IntelliJ IDEA

Here are my top five cool features in IntelliJ IDEA. There are of course more than five, but that wouldn’t make a catchy blog title!

  • Management of JDKs
  • Code completion
  • On-demand error highlighting
  • Customization
  • Tight integration

#1 – Management of JDKs

IntelliJ IDEA does a fantastic job of managing your JDKs. You can download new JDKs and configure existing JDKs on your machine with IntelliJ IDEA. I created a tip for this on the IntelliJ IDEA Guide but the short version is – go to your Project Structure with ⌘; (macOS), or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+S (Windows/Linux), to view your Project Structure.

The SDK drop-down shows you all the JDKs that are configured for use with IntelliJ IDEA (assuming you’re using a Java project), then there is an option to Add SDK and finally, IntelliJ IDEA shows you a list of detected SDKs:

The top list outlined in orange is all the JDKs that I’ve configured for use with IntelliJ IDEA. The bottom list outlined in green is the detected SDK – that is all those on your machine that you’ve downloaded but are not yet being used by IntelliJ IDEA. The middle option, Add SDK, outlined in purple is where you can download a new JDK from different vendors to your machine by selecting Download JDK. You can also select JDK to browse to a JDK on your machine that exists but IntelliJ IDEA hasn’t detected. You can also download IntelliJ Platform Plugin SDKs and Android SDKs here.

When you select Download JDK you can choose your version and vendor and IntelliJ IDEA will download your chosen JDK and configure it with use with IntelliJ IDEA.

#2 – Code Completion

IntelliJ IDEA takes code completion to the next level. There’s Basic Completion, Advanced Completion, Live Templates, Postfix Completion, Statement Completion and more.

Here’s a whirlwind tour for you! Basic completion usually is available by default, but you can also invoke it with ⌃␣ (macOS), or Ctrl+Space (Windows/Linux). Smart completion or type-matching completion is similar to basic completion, but it only shows options for the current context. You can invoke smart completion with ⌃⇧␣ (macOS), or Ctrl+Shift+Space (Windows/Linux).

Live Templates are also a form of code completion that allow you to use abbreviations such as main that IntelliJ IDEA will convert to Java’s main method. There are dozens of live templates, and you can create your own!

Postfix completion is similar to live templates in some respects in that it also uses abbreviations but it helps you avoid backward caret jumps as you craft the code. It also allows you to manipulate existing code as you add the dot and then the abbreviation for the postfix completion you want to use, for example ifn for if null.

Finally, statement completion is one of my favourites because it adds the correct parentheses, braces, and semicolons to my code! The shortcut is ⇧⌘⏎ (macOS), Ctrl+Shift+Enter (Windows/Linux). This is just one you need to try out, granted three key presses is more than one semi-colon but it’s very helpful because it reduces errors in my code. I also find I can quickly use ⇧⏎ (macOS), or Shift+Enter (Windows/Linux) to create a new line – it’s just a syntactically pleasing combination!

#3 – On-Demand Error Highlighting

You can write code and see error highlighting in real-time in IntelliJ IDEA, no more waiting for the compiler; if your code isn’t going to compile, IntelliJ IDEA will tell you about it straight away. I prefer to fix errors as they happen, usually with Quick Intentions which is ⌥⏎ (macOS), Alt+Enter (Windows/Linux). IntelliJ IDEA helpfully gives you a little red light-bulb when there’s an error with your code:


Alternatively, you can use F2 to navigate to each error in your Project or use the Problems tool window which is ⌘6 (macOS), or Alt+6 (Windows/Linux) to get an overview of any problems across your project.

If you search the IntelliJ IDEA tip page for “quick intentions” it will give you a flavour of some of the ways it can help.

#4 – Customisation

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love being able to customise IntelliJ IDEA. Fortunately, it comes packed with sensible default options but equally allows you to customise these over time as you get more familiar with the product. Of course, I don’t use 95% of the customisations but the point is that I can and many people in the community do. That said, the 5% I do use makes my authoring experience a more enjoyable and productive one. The best way to get an idea of what IntelliJ IDEA is capable of in the customisation department is to go to your Settings/Preferences with ⌘, (macOS), or Ctrl+Alt+S (Windows/Linux). You can then browse and view the groupings on the left such as Appearance & Behavior and Editor. My favourites customisation are:

#5 – Tight Integration

I couldn’t come up with a better name for this one, but fundamentally it’s the integration part of the IDE. It’s easy to take this part for granted because IntelliJ IDEA makes it look easy, however integration with tools such as Git, Maven, Gradle, Docker and more in both IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition and IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate.

Having a one-stop shop for all your coding needs really is a productivity boost, plus there’s no more faffing about configuring external tools to work with your coding tool because it’s all neatly integrated!