As part of my role I manage testers and also those involved in delivery operations. This means thinking not only about testing and test techniques, but also about person management, and the tools and techniques that a good manager uses in order to have a happy and productive team. These two areas should not, of course, be treated in isolation since, in order to have a successful test team, it’s the managers job to ensure that the two areas fit well together. If this can be done in as seamless as possible a way, maybe even without the team members even being aware of it, then my experience tells me that you can hit that sweet spot where the team is technically excellent as well as being the sort of team that testers want to work in, and are proud to work in.
I’ve studied a lot of theories of management in the past but the one that I keep coming back to again and again is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. At it’s simplest it seeks to explain the needs of human’s in their most basic form, expressed hierarchically in order of those needs.
So, for example, the theory puts forward the hypothesis that it is most important (and therefore at the bottom of the pyramid) that human’s experience a need for food, water, etc. Safety needs come next, followed by a need for belonging, and so on.
As a manager, keeping this simple theory in mind can really help. I’ve found numerous occasions in the past where it has helped me understand team members actions, and to help ensure the team is working effectively together.
But it has also got my thinking about how one might go about applying Maslow’s Theory of Needs to Testing. More specifically, how a tester in a team or project might experience and visualise those needs, as reflected by their status within the team. This lead me to produce this:
Test Mastery is a place I see the respected, happy tester sitting. Probably people like you, who interact and are involved with the software testing community, who self-learn and who are able to articulate the need for testing effectively.
This is just the start of the theory. I’m sure, as a community we can add more to this. What would you add to the different levels and why? Leave a comment below.