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Communication between a tester and the new team or how to befriend people


Do you, as a tester, know the feeling after getting invited to a new project and your first meeting is going to start in a moment?

You keep thinking about several questions, e.g.: Will the team accept me? Will I be understood? Will I find myself at home in the project? Is my English good enough?

For sure the list is even longer and they all generate additional stress that limits your productivity. This is why I would like to present my approach to communication issues.

Say Hello – how to introduce yourself

Research you new mates

When I got my first assignment and the first daily meeting was getting closer and closer my mind switched to the “interview mode”. I kept thinking about looking good in the camera, about all English lessons I took, about being able to understand complicated technical vocabulary. Quite a lot of stressful thoughts, isn’t it? Moreover, you need to remember that one bad thoughts follows the other. As a result the domino effects starts and stress eats you up before you even know.

It’s best to forget about all “what ifs”. The whole concentration and energy should be directed at identifying appropriate atmosphere of the meeting. Why? The answer is because people feel best in the environment that uses similar body language, language, gestures and has a similar approach to problems. So if you notice that your new team uses a rather unofficial “Hi”, you should do it, too. If they prefer “good morning”, greet them in the same way. This is a very important process. If you fit in well, it is 99% certain the team will treat you like one of their own.

Step two – something about yourself

OK, you have already introduced yourself and your turn to speak has come, but nobody has asked you any questions, yet. The project is fresh, it’s your first day as a tester, so look at it as at your first conversation with new friends. You know nothing about each other, so say something about yourself! Show that you are open and easy going, that you can talk about any given topic. It is best to present some brief information about yourself – what genres of music you listen to, what games you play what films and books you like.

The story of your whole life is not a must. A brief summary is enough. Such a conversation is usually a nice treat for teams that have worked together for a longer time. Maybe you can blend in seamlessly?

In case of new teams everybody needs to introduce anyway, so you cannot avoid it. If your first daily is today, keep your chin up and be talkative!

Fix It – how to report a but, understand the team and its needs

Some time has passed and you great in the project. The time has come for the tester to report your the bug! But how to communicate this news? First of all, never show frustration or any other negative feelings. It’s the easiest way to show yourself in a bad light and start being perceived as a toxic person. So beside using appropriate tools for reporting bugs, it’s always nice to inform the developer using private channels. Explain them the bug and say where it is reported. Maybe the conversation will lead to a longer discussion and knowing the person better? And what if the only response you get is plain “Thanks” with no other info? Don’t worry and just let the other person be, maybe they are busy? You can always ask about your report later.

It’s also cool for a tester to send a report with a communicate completely not related to the issue. For example: “Hey, I reported a bug, here is a link. Btw, have you already seen this band <link>?” It’s an easy way of showing that we are normal people, not just bug reporting machines. It also allows for creating a bond between you and your teammates, and present yourself as a good buddy that is easy to talk to.

A good tester should not only look for bugs, but also for solutions that can improve the processes, for example processes of fixing bugs and managing them. You can’t find a communication channel for discussing QA processes you are on at the moment? Create it! Your development team has no way of asking you questions in a way that the answer is publically visible? Create it! It will improve your communication with the team, make you seem more professional and make you role in creating the project more influential.

Understanding the needs

Equally important to meeting the needs of the client for a tester is researching their needs. When you believe you lack space to store your test cases and all testing documentation you managed to create – ask! Maybe you can come up with some interesting innovation that could be implemented to the project? TestRail is is a good example of a tool for test case management. Also, it is a good practice is to prepare well before such proposals. You need to learn all about the solutions you propose, so you can immediately answer any possible questions. It’s nice to pick some cool features, such as Jira integration.

To sum it up, let’s review some obvious things, that are worth mentioning anyway. We, the testers, have to point at defects and help solving them, care about the quality and search for ways of improving the product. Starting with the colors of a website, its usability, user experience, availability of information and functionality of each of its components, we need to judge not people, but their work. And let’s do it in a creative, non-intrusive and, most importantly, consistent way.

I assure you that you will be treated liked by your team if you stick to these rules.

Oops! Something went wrong! A tester made a mistake!

What, a tester made a mistake? But testers should find mistakes, not make them, isn’t that right? Well, in general – yes. But we must remember that we are all just ordinary people and we are going to make mistakes whether we like it or not. Let’s suppose a serious bug was omitted and found in a production build. It was not easy to discover and we could not find it with our limited resources. What now? Well – a bummer. But be cool, don’t hide under your desk and cry. You need to gather as much information about the problem as possible, as fast as possible. When you do that and give it to the team, you can start dealing with analysing what went wrong.

Most importantly forget about any nervous reactions. Never point at people telling them “You didn’t tell me about that!”. It is in our best interest to find out what we need to know about the product we are testing. Maybe the priorities were chosen in a wrong way? Maybe we tested item A and it was not the most crucial one? It is good to engage in an open discussion and present your point of view, but do it in a calm manner. Maybe you actually had been misinformed or you misunderstood something? A very important factor when solving these problems and avoiding them in the future is offering a complex solution. You cannot be aggressive or get nervous towards others. Whenever the team notices that you are trying to blame them for your mistakes, they will instantly stop trusting you and rebuilding good relations will probably be impossible.

So always deal with what happens like a man and face the criticism. After all, it’s your job, isn’t it?

If, However, nor communication nor your hardware can be blamed, also no other factor, but only you failed? Not everybody knows that (or maybe everybody knows, but some choose to ignore it), but simple admitting to mistakes and apologizing for them is nothing bad. On the contrary: saying “It was my mistake” can show us in the best light.

How we can deal with our failures and understand them will show that we are better than we seem to be.

To solve a problem, first you need to understand it.

The End

This is how we got to the end of the topic. Actually, we have barely scratched the surface. Relations with other people, methods of communication and similar issues are a very vast topic and can be discussed for ages . I personally, as a certified graduate of neuro linguistic programming, I have already understood how wide and complicated topic it is. Factors such as body language, gestures, voice, approach and empathy make us people we are every day and determine how others perceive us.

Once a professor said that despite borders, nationalities, races, languages and customs that divide us, we are still all very similar in many aspects. The scientists have already proven that all of us, even those who were born blind make identical faces when smelling something unpleasant. Also, blind people have the same body language as those, who can see, when lying, being upset, happy or sad. So never forget that even though our teammates maybe English, Russian or German – we are still the same inside. All of us have similar dreams, feelings, thoughts and all of us make similar mistakes and have bad days. Remember about it saying “Hi!”, reporting a bug or admitting to having committed a mistake for the first time.

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Tomek Fortuna

Tomek Fortuna 10.01.2019

A huge fan of computer games, Python and literature, especially works by Tolkien. Currently researching automation and planning to write his own retro-themed game.

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