I recently read a blog that caught my eye: 5 Things You Can Do to Be a Better Boss. While I didn’t agree with all of the points the author made, it got me thinking about what qualities I believe make a test manager great. Some of them aren’t unique to the test manager role, but here are 6 things I associate with great test managers or leads:
- Focus on the outcome: If your team is consistently getting a quality product into the hands of customers, do you really care how they have self-organized to do so? Worry about the outcome, not the inputs along the way.
- Display trust and have compassion: Look, times are hard right now. We are in the middle of a global pandemic which impacts the way we work, in multiple ways. The civil unrest in the United States (and across many other countries) makes it hard to concentrate some days. And we are all doing our best to keep things moving in a general forward direction. Having a leader that understands that and offers trust and compassion to their team is needed now more than ever. Be flexible, offer an ear, and listen to your team’s needs.
- Don’t solely rely on metrics: As a test manager, it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. What’s my production defect rate. How quickly are we finding defects? What’s our invalid defect rate? These are all valid metrics to track. However, don’t let the metrics tell the whole story. Going back to the first point, focus on the outcome too!
- Challenge your team to continuously learn: It’s really easy to get so bogged down in day-to-day tasks that you forget there is a whole world out there. The internet is endless in its blog posts, articles and first-hand accounts telling us how to do things differently. Challenge your team to continue learning and support them if they want to try new things. To fully support this effort, give them time during the day for R&D and trying new tools.
- Be patient: If the saying old habits die hard is true, this adage has died a million hard deaths for me. As a test director, I’ve had to learn to walk the fine line of asking for an update (so I can communicate to others effectively) and asking for an update every 30 minutes. As much as you don’t intend to disrupt the tester, you are. In addition to that, some might even misconstrue your constant questioning for pushing them to quickly finish.
- Be wrong: In case you needed to hear this, it’s ok to be wrong. Being wrong doesn’t make you less of a leader, less respectable or less anything else besides human. However, it does show your team that you’re able to iterate on ideas, come back to the drawing board, and be better next time. After all, those are all attributes you’re asking of them too.
Being a great test leader boils down to this: trust the test engineers you’ve hired, focus on the outcomes, and show compassion in the way you interact with them.
What qualities do you prefer to see in a test manager? Answer below in the comments!