Software testers are typically grouped en masse in the world of information technology (IT). Many in the software testing profession, however, know that this should not be the case. In this column, Dion Johnson exposes the dichotomy in testing that has produced two distinct groups—software test engineers and software test executors—and why these groups are embroiled in a struggle to possess the crown as the industry's true software quality professionals.
Most managers realize that giving feedback is an important part of their job. But not all managers are skilled at providing feedback. Some make vague comparisons, mistakenly apply labels as feedback, and others just hint and hope you'll get the message. Esther Derby offers advice on how to probe for the information that will help you understand your manager's concerns when he doesn't state them clearly.
We may be creatures of habit—adhering to and promoting processes we know well—but we also habitually look to other work environments that appear capable of nurturing our ideas once an old environment becomes depleted. Ed Weller believes that searching for greener pastures is unnecessary. You just need to learn how to cultivate your managers in order to create an environment that will harbor your ideas. Ed explains why you'll end up grazing fruitlessly if you can't plant your ideas with management.
If your customer interview questions focus too narrowly on a problem that must be solved, you run the risk of missing information that could be critical to a successful outcome. In this column, Naomi Karten says playing detective improves your ability to gather information. To improve the odds of success, it's important to ask questions from multiple perspectives—and to pay attention not only to the customers' response, but to how they say it as well.
Drawing up a to-do list sounds like a logical starting point when you want to prioritize your workload. But if you have an extra-long list of tasks, the list you should start with is the not-to-do list. Doing so forces you to take an extra hard look at what you're doing and if you should be doing it. Learn more about Johanna Rothman's not-to-do list, how it helps you stay focused on the most important tasks, and how it inevitably helps you maintain your value to the organization.
When people work closely together, there's bound to be friction and irritations. Some people find it difficult to bring up these issues directly, so they hint and hope. And when the hint doesn't help, the irritation can grow out of proportion. Team members' ability to give peer-to-peer feedback both about work and interpersonal relationships is critical to developing a highly productive team. Esther Derby tells us about a team torn apart by an unattractive personal habit and offers some advice for talking about touchy interpersonal issues.
After reading Naomi Karten's StickyMinds.com article "Thinking Inside the Box," in which she mentioned an experiential exercise she had facilitated, numerous readers contacted her to learn more about conducting such exercises. In this column, Naomi Karten describes one of her favorite team exercises, with details on how to conduct it and what to expect when you do.
Our brains are wonderful processors capable of making sense of the huge amount of sensory input we receive every day. But sometimes, our first interpretation of sensory data can lead us astray. Esther Derby shows us how assuming our interpretation of events holds the truth of the matter can damage relationships, and how testing our interpretations can help.
When building successful relationships with your customers, certain verbs such as "to respond," "to listen," and "to involve" are important and should be used. But this column is about another common place verb that's not at all customer focused: "to get." Naomi doesn't mean "to get a 50% raise for completing the project on time" or "to get a week off for creating a brilliant test plan." No, she means, "to get customers to do things your way." Learn how simple verb replacement therapy can help you build better relationships with the customer.
Resumes only tell a portion of a candidate's story just like caller ID doesn't always reveal the caller's complete identity. Screening candidates over the phone can help extract more of the person's story if you ask the right questions. In this column, Johanna Rothman shares phone-screening techniques she uses to detect great potential testers. This process of elimination saves her valuable time and ensures only qualified candidates make it to the in-person interview.