Our company has always held a lot of pride in our development and QA teams. However, where developers are treated like Rockstars, QA is not, to say the least. Sometimes it feels like the whole of an organization looks down on QA team members. From the developer’s perspective, this is because QA’s entire reason for being is to point out their flaws. Not to be petty of course but it is hard to see past that when your beautiful code is savaged by the QA team.
Management also seems to have taken some umbrage with their QA teams as well. You see, QA teams, unlike Developers, do not produce anything tangible perse. They receive code that has been developed and hand it back full of red marks like a teacher grading an essay. Beyond that, we have seen situations where QA’s suggested fixes and identified bugs led to delays in releasing a new version of a web or mobile app. QA is inevitably blamed for these delays because if they stopped testing your app you would have fewer bugs. That is until the release when every single user who found a bug would throw so much shade it would feel like standing under an Oak tree. We all know the results of that as well, low ratings, high abandonment, and the complete failure of your app.
So let’s show our QA teams some gratitude for the hard work they do. But first let’s make sure QA knows how to behave too.
Making sure QA plays nice
The onus is not only on the entire organization to ensure that QA team members feel connected appreciated and desired. QA teams can also have an attitude that could use some adjusting so let’s look at a few ways that QA team members can improve their attitude and behavior as part of a larger organization.
- Bugs should get appropriate importance depending on the severity of the bug. Meaning, don’t blow smaller issues out of proportion.
- Test functionality over cosmetics. If you find yourself filing similar issues over and over, use past instances to recommend solutions
- Actually look at the code. When possible suggest changes.
- Eliminate your arrogance. If/when you discover a bug prove it with facts and documentation.
- Communicate with developers in order to understand where they are mentally, and how their approach is different from that of QA.
- Keep asking smart questions.
- Stay polite. Pretty self-explanatory.
How to show your QA teams they are respected and valued
1. Manage Expectations
Once you have your vaunted (we assume) team in place. The first way to keep your team feeling gratified and motivated is by making sure that they understand what is expected of them and that management understands what their goals and roles are.
Creating a per-project mission statement before each test run is a good way to start. Before you share these with management be sure to understand your audience and their primary concerns. Your goals should be in the interest of meeting those expectations. If you and management are not on the same page don’t start testing out of spite. Figure out the disconnect first.
Should your mission statement require editing be sure to discuss that with upper management as well. Perhaps your goals and the goals of management need to be combined. The main goal is to make whatever product is about to be tested the best and that is something everyone can agree on.
With managed goals and expectations your team will feel like some of the pressure on them has been alleviated.
2. Lower Stress
That leads us into our next way to show gratitude to your QA team. Once you have established a good rapport with management it will improve your team and perhaps company culture. That plays a huge role in how QA team members feel about their positions.
Beyond that, one of the simplest ways to lower the stress of a taxing work schedule is with higher salaries, however, we have seen that some QA members are willing to take less pay to work in a better environment. That makes the manager responsible for rewarding good work and arranging activities that allow team members to cut loose and get away from their tasks for a bit. Using these types of methods to reward awesomely performing teams helps build the team dynamic. It also reduces the risk of QA team member disenfranchisement which often leads to team members leaving the company.
3. Show Appreciation
Even simpler than reducing stress is sharing gratitude and appreciation directly with your team. It is important that QA managers let team members know when they excelled at a new task or improved on some previous performance issues. In an agile testing environment communication is one of the crucial qualities that make success possible.
What is important here is that any vocal demonstration of appreciation must be totally sincere. Be sure of what you are saying before saying it, and always tell the truth. Then you can simply let your team members know that their contributions to the project are appreciated and have resulted in team success. It is that simple.
4. Quality over Quantity
As important as rewarding positive team behavior is figuring out which type of behavior to reward. The simplest way would be to look at the team stats and give prizes and praise to the team members who detect the most bugs.
What QA managers should focus on however is the quality of work over the number of defects detected. The ideal situation is one where team members are rewarded for the significance of the bugs discovered over the number of them. It ensures those team members who find the most important bugs are not overlooked in favor of others who are simply padding their stats.
5. Stand up for your team
QA team managers know their teams, how they work what methods are successful, and which practices annoy people. Obviously, team leaders need to be polite, but they also need to voice any concerns, needs, and opinions to the highest levels of management.
It is a delicate balance. When an issue comes up you shouldn’t run to whine to the CEO but you also need to make sure to discuss it with the appropriate person. Without drawing attention to the problem nothing will change.
Sometimes management makes blind changes when production is not running at the level they expect it to. We have all been in situations where management hears that “Agile” will solve all their problems and then implement it without solid planning. If there are major changes coming it will benefit both managers and team members to discuss these with management. Even discuss with your team first and then bring their concerns and suggestions forward. If management is not receptive, they should give you their reasons as well. Hopefully, you will be able to discuss these complaints in a way that will lead to real gains both for the team and for the organization.
Wrapping up with gratitude
It is a pleasure to work for a company that puts such great energy into QA and each software release. When we roll out a new version, the requirements were gathered from management, handed off to the developers who then work with QA in a loop of feedback development and testing until it is ready to go. Simple.
At the same time, some people treat QA teams and their members as frivolous. If Old Macdonald had a software company, there would be a test test here and a test test there. Meanwhile, management sits in their offices longingly eyeing the release button.
These types of environments often lead to QA team member turnover and with that comes all manner of challenges. The best way to keep your QA team intact and functioning at a high level is by showing them appreciation from managers and executives. Finally, always remember that the team that plays together stays together.