Patience, Resourcefulness, Listening, Questioning, Love of communication, Empathy, Engaging, Building Rapport and Nurturing. There are many traits, skills and experiences that lend themselves brilliantly to being a great tester. Yet it is often these kinds of aspects that are overlooked. I will explore why and how these predispositions are desirable attributes to excelling in the field of testing.
Patience is a Virtue
Patience is often required when being a tester for various reasons. Such as when we discover things and may need to wait for fixes. At times we need to overcome blockers or provide solutions to complex issues. Patience is required in the problem solving it takes to reach those solutions. Many projects involve very complex systems that take time to understand and learn or even just the patience to work with a variety of people or complex processes. In all these events, patience aids in us taking the time to overcome difficulties and achieve successful delivery.
There are people who possess great patience, without perhaps even realising how much so. We see it every day all around us, as people handle the testing situations they do in day to day life.
Productive As Opposed To Busy
People are often resourceful. They are resourceful in their personal and home lives, probably sometimes without even realising it. This skill is transferable to testing and is extremely useful. To be tool agnostic, it means you need to have the resourcefulness to research or gain the knowledge to be able to choose and advise the most suitable tools for whatever it is that needs testing. This can vary so much from project to project, as every project is individual. If these people do not have what they need to get whatever it is they are trying to achieve done, they will source it. When doing so they tend to shop around and find the best tool for the job.
Tools and the way you go about approaching things can distinguish an average tester from a great one. When testing something you may not be familiar with, or may need more knowledge on, you also need to be resourceful to fill in those knowledge gaps and learn. Either by speaking to the right people or finding a way to learn whatever it is you need to, in the most time and cost effective way.
The Difference Between Listening and Hearing
People can listen to one another for endless amounts of time. For some people, this is even their idea of fun. Some enjoy learning about others and finding out what they have to say. This is such a significant skill as a tester. You could miss vital information by not listening, or not even receive it in the first place, through not encouraging the conversations and wanting to hear what people have to say. The more we listen, the more information we can gather. It also contributes to building good relationships, this is easier achieved when listening. Furthermore, you can also learn from the people around you and those you are working with through simply listening and soaking up what they know. In testing there is infinite knowledge to learn, the more you do so, the better and more experienced tester you can become.
The Art of Communication is the Language of Leadership
Some individuals simply love to communicate and talk to people, as discussed above. For a tester, communication is a key skill. The conversations you have are a significant contribution to the effectiveness of your testing. The way you communicate also demonstrates a lot about you and the company you represent. Being a great communicator reflects positively in every way on both you as an individual and the company you work for. It will gain people’s respect and will benefit your testing. Again it also results in better relationships being built with your colleagues and stakeholders. If relationships are strong, then people are more willing to give their time and more collaboration will take place. Collaboration is a key ingredient for a successful delivery. Furthermore, as consultants networking at events both internally and externally is something to be encouraged. People that naturally enjoy communication will flourish when doing so.
There are people who have an innate desire to question and analyse everything. In testing this can be exercised positively. A great tester has the ability to analyse and question rather than just accept the result or what’s in front of them. To problem solve effectively, you have to be able to analyse and ask the right questions. It’s what sets the great testers aside. Curiosity is crucial.
Seeing Things Through Others’ Eyes
Some people are naturally empathetic beings. This is an essential part of being a tester, being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see things from different perspectives. It also helps you understand the user and could lead to more in depth and efficient testing. Understanding human interaction is a significant strength in being a good tester. Testing is not just a robotic process, there is so much more to it and having empathy can contribute positively to your testing.
Being able to read people’s faces and watch their reactions, without them even speaking, is a brilliant skill. This can have a positive effect on team dynamics as they can understand their colleagues and can pick up on how others feel. It can result in a happy team, therefore a more effective team with collaboration and strong foundations.
Building An Easy Rapport
Some naturally have the ability to small-talk which can be great for building relationships at work. They can talk about the little things, which may seem useless, but it can in fact be the opposite. People work a lot of hours in the week, the little conversations in between can be the ones that contribute to their work day being happier. It is what makes employees feel like people see them as human, that can be more important than people realise. These people can learn what people like out of work and small details about themselves which can lead to stronger relations. These are the things that help build rapport and result in healthier relationships all round. As a tester, the relationships you build with everyone around you are very important and contribute to your effectiveness.
There are people who are ‘nurturers’ which can be excellent for building teams. They enjoy collaboration and building strong eco-systems. This can lead to strong teams and effective processes. In testing, the team and processes are the foundation. If these are strong then it allows for a better quality of testing. Some people really enjoy looking out for others and instinctively do so, they can bring this mentality to work. They can build the foundation of a team and they care about the members in it. This means they can pick up on any tensions and ensure good relationships. They also care about other people’s opinions meaning they can consider these when making decisions or having discussions. They want everyone working in the same direction and can show the same strong leadership they potentially do at home, in their workplace. This emphasis on team mentality and a more harmonious workplace means that everyone can work together rather than against each other. They can then head towards the same goals, resulting in high quality products being delivered.
In their everyday lives, some individuals have acquired or already possess qualities that they should bring to work. Most people are unaware that doing so could contribute to making them more successful in their careers. They are particularly relevant to a testing role as discussed. These qualities and skills can distinguish someone as a brilliant and effective tester. They are frequently overlooked by both incumbents and those looking to enter the field. Too many are unaware of opportunities in the tech discipline and that their everyday skills can bring great value in these fields. It is important that we raise the awareness of these aspects and the opportunities that exist for people. If you are considering a career in testing and these are qualities that you already have, then testing could be perfect for you!