Why is team management important skill for the testers?
I believe this is natural sequel for the previous topic and again very vital skill in the QA’s skill set. And in order to put it straight, this post is not about how to managing people, I really don’t intend to try to replace my manager, nor my scrum master or whatever. To manage a team and being a manager might be two separate things. We are talking about leadership here, we are talking about inspiration. The tester must be that “invisible glue” that holds the team together and makes it act like one single unit, just like the photo above, where everyone is responsible for the person on the left and the person on the right of him.
And again it’s not about being the manager, it is about being good team mate, it is about building a team, because as Miyamoto Musahi says “there is more than one path to the top of the mountain” and you don’t have to necessarily be the manager in order to manage the team.
Why are testers good for that purpose?
The main reason for that is, as I stated in the previous articles, in order to do our job we need to have a lot of competences, we have to be quick learners and have a good understanding of software product’s life cycle – from development and business perspective. So it is easy for us to find the appropriate language and approach to speak with various team members and make them feel comfortable in out company. And that’s the first step.
We already explained we have to be good negotiators, so it is also true we have to be good in diplomacy – making people believe what we believe and be good at resolving conflicts harmlessly. Plus, after all as I said, we are responsible for the quality of the product, and this includes quality of the team, too.
The human element.
This is something that I put great importance on and unfortunately it’s one of the things that modern technologies push out of scope and that’s where the headaches start. We are all human, and believe it or not we enjoy contacting and interacting with other human beings and it doesn’t matter if contact means have a talk or have an argument, we would definitely prefer to have this personally instead of having it via skype or email. I very much like this quote from James Bach where he said “I can tell my wife that I love her every day or I can write a cron job to mail it to her everyday at the same time, but I don’t think it would be the same”. And I really love it because in modern days we do this a lot and in our jobs as well, we replace human interaction, the very essence of our nature as social beings with skype, phone calls, facebook, viber, snap chat and we pretend like it’s ok, but it’s not. And it applies for your personal relationships as well as for your professional ones, you can not replace the human element with anything. If you really want to build a team around you and make people trust and enjoy the fact they are working with you, share some additional minutes with them, when you are new, go and introduce yourself to the team, ask ’em what they do, tell them your story. Whenever you or a team mate has a problem go there, sit with him ask questions instead of writing them on skype or mailing them. And to do so, there’s a good reason – chat programs and written communication might be very delusive sometimes – it can’t express sarcasm or irony, it can’t express gratitude, too – in other words, there’s a good reason why we communicate at so many levels including body language, intonation, eye contact etc., so don’t omit these, they are important and your colleagues will value the fact that you are doing it.
Value a good argument.
Normally we are caught in this cliche that says “No opinion is a wrong opinion. Everyone has the right to be heard.” Well, I think we are greatly underestimating the value of a good argument and I don’t mean one that will end up with fight, but one that is dedicated to testing your point of view. Because there is wrong opinion and this is like 95 % of the creative process, but the only valid way to find the right one is to test it, to introduce it to your team and expect the worst possible output they might give you. If you are successful in defending your stand point you win, if not at least you might give creative drive to somebody else in your team so they could resolve the problem you had. And yes, there is wrong opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that, because being a creative person and understanding person, I know that I might be wrong, same with my team mates, but I know that’s ok, and if they make a mistake I won’t stigmatize it and make them feel bad or offended.
Software industry might be a bitch sometimes, it’s dynamic, it’s fast paced and there’s a lot of pressure on each one of us, so whenever you want to communicate with your team mates, try to be nice. I know it might be your worst day, but it might be theirs, too. And it doesn’t conflict my previous point, of having a good argument, because if you are a good team mate you will be able to make an argument without pissing off the person in front of you and make him hate you for the rest of his live.
We are not only living in the office and even when we are in the office it’s not only the work that we do while we are inside. It’s a good idea to build your team in alternative activities, too. Such as going to a lunch together or going out for a beer or to a club. You will find out that sometimes informal communication might be way much more productive than the formal one, sitting in the office with all the tasks on you shoulders etc. It’s about getting to know that human being sitting next to you, not just as a good professional, but as a unique human being as well. You can practice sports together or tell jokes, play computer games, play poker, whatever you want. At some point, you will find out that it’s much more enjoyable to work with these people instead of having that cold corporate desert environment before.
So, be creative when it comes to making your team a single unit, enjoy their company and make them enjoy yours. For us as QAs might be reasonable to play the glue that holds the team together, because it’s us that will have the unique opportunity to have all the advantages and down sides of the team we have.
If you liked the topic or hated it or you just have a different opinion, don’t hesitate to share or comment. Thanks for reading 😉