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  1. #1
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    Apr 2008
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    Guidence to become a test lead

    I am software testing professional with 5.5 years of hands on experience in manual and a bit of automation testing.
    I am planning to move into management, I would say intially as Team Lead.

    Can anyone guide me to achieve my dream.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2007
    Castle Grayskull
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    Re: Guidence to become a test lead

    Check out the book "First, Break all the Rules"
    I'd read Jack Welch's book "Straight from the Gut" as well

    Ensure you have the people skills to deal with issues and situations ranging from pregnancy to drug abuse to emotional breakdowns of people under high stress to understanding how to manage and grow those on your team who are nothing short of brilliant.

    One of the marks of a true leader is one who has put in place a structure and built a team who can be successful in the short and long-term and do this WITHOUT being present. You don't want to be in a position that if a team lead or department head leaves person the departments falls to pieces.

    Become comfortable and actually encourage people to have the confidence to walk into your office and disagree with you.

    Set a goal for yourself that if necessary you could actually perform many of the tasks you are assigning to people. Not only will it keep you engaged about the product and projects it will also help you during decision-making exercises. You don't want to be in the situation where without your team you couldn't make proper decisions. I've personally tested most every product I was responsible for in my previous company and I can say that without a doubt this allowed me to be a more effective leader.

    Understand the differences of interacting with men vs. women. In some cases there is no difference while in other cases there is.

    The saying "don't judge a book by its color" should be followed as well. One of my better testers in the last 10 years used to wear Metallica and Pantera t-shirts to work most days and had a long goatee. His degree was in Math and he was a great tester.

    I was reading a book on job hunting and there was a comment that one needs to examine an environment and then conform to it. I have serious issues with that type of thinking. Some of the great innovators and leaders over the years were highly successful because they were not interested in conforming to society but rather were concerned about consistently performing and making appropriate decisions given various situations. I think a great example of this would be Martin Luther King. Although he was assassinated because he was not following the norm, his contribution to society was enormous and his legacy and mindset continues to permeate society in positive ways still to this day.

    Thus, don't follow the norm or particular dev processes or widely held beliefs by default.....do what makes sense and modify when necessary. Always remember that processes and standards and <x> were developed by people just as you and I based on their experiences, trends and collaboration with others. DO NOT assume they are or were better equipped or smarter than you to propose and implement effective ideas that work for the team or projects you are managing.

    Do not feel that as a team-lead all decision making is now up to you and the team needs to do what you say. Issues arise when people work in silos rather than involving the team to understand all sides of the story prior to making a decision. Do not feel this is a sign of incompetence on your part but rather the mark of a good leader. The mark of incompetence is one who sits in an office all day with little or no interaction with employees making decisions that affect the entire department.

    Identify key people in the dept you can rely on day in/day out at all levels. I had a few QA Engineers, a team lead and a manager who helped me to understand low-level matters in the team and obtain the perspective of people at all levels . As a team-lead your manager will more than likely be relying on your to bounce ideas off of, ensure the right decisions are being made in the department, etc. Be prepared to provide your manager the support he/she needs to allow the department to be successful.

    Make it a point to provide your manager a list of the tools and support you need in order to be successful. If you have a manager who doesn't provide what you need you will quickly fail as a leader.

    Do whatever is necessary for you to feel you are the de-facto expert in the company about the areas you are responsible for and based on input from the team and your ideas walk into meetings with the mindset people need to prove you wrong in order change what you and the team feel is needed. Never back down to someone based on their title.

    Never complain or identify issues for which you have no proposal or ideas on how to fix the issue. Identifying issues is the easy part.....fixing them is what can be incredibly challenging and difficult.

    Know your team and develop a rapport with your direct reports. Celebrate success and identify and fix issues when possible. Do you joke around and laugh with your friends? Do it with your co-workers as well in moderation. This helps in solidifying the bond between you and the team. No one wants to work on a team where a distinct difference exists between a high and mighty leader and those who do what he/she tells them in an environment where jokes and laughter only occurs outside of work.

    Congratulate people for a job well done to the extent you can generally remember the last time you've done it for each employee. The words "you did a great job on this task....way to go and keep up the good work" often times seems such a small task and something that will barely make a difference but in some cases it means the world to the person you communicated this to

    What is communicated to your employees during performance appraisals should never come as a shock because it's the first time they've ever heard they're either doing a fantastic job or have issues that need to be corrected. No one wants to be in the situation where one in a leadership position has known there have been issues for quite some time yet waits until the day of a performance report to communicate issues and give them a poor or mediocre rating which in many cases may negatively affect their ability to obtain a raise or obtain a promotion.

    Depending on the person and their approach to work and what makes them comfortable and happy I would either have weekly 1-1 meetings or meetings every 2-3 weeks where we discussed their key tasks, were on the same page about key tasks, etc.I always knew that for one of my direct reports I had better have a list of areas he could improve upon because he would always ask this following question "How can I improve and go from good to great?" This was a key goal of his and as a leader it's your responsibility to provide a foundation that will allow both a company and your employees to prosper.

    Always remember that it's a personal choice to work at a company. Don't ever assume your employees will never leave the company and will be on your team forever. Because of this risk to department and company success in regards to high performers, make sure you cater to their needs and make sure they are happy.....within reason of course. Perform random acts of kindness for these people....my previous company surprised one of the most intelligent people I've ever known with a brand new 5k high-end computer a few years back. Make sure your manager allocates a small portion of the budget for spot bonus or <x>. For one or two high performers on my team I bought 2 $50 gift certificates to a nice steakhouse. One day during a hot summer day I went to the grocery store and brought in watermelon...another day I went and bought ice-cream bars for everyone. Again....this helps to bond a team. I care about them....they care about me and together we all make a team who is capable of a high-level of performance.
    Reserve a few months every so often and preview retirement throughout your career. You won't regret that a 35 year career was reduced to 34 years to take vacations measured in months in order to remember what a stress and care-free life is all about.

    Books and hard work will get you anywhere you want to go.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2004
    Riga, Latvia
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    Re: Guidence to become a test lead

    [ QUOTE ]

    Ensure you have the people skills to deal with issues and situations ranging from pregnancy to drug abuse ....

    [/ QUOTE ]
    I wonder how do you deal with an "issue of pregnancy" [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    I believe everyone who is only planning to move into management should count on his boss to help dealing with issues new to him. So my recommendation number one is to get your boss' support for this move.

    On the books I recommend "Becoming a Technical Leader: An Organic Problem-Solving Approach" by Gerald M. Weinberg
    ?:the art of a constructive conflict perceived as a destructive diagnose.



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