7 Tips to Improve Productivity of your QA Engineer Tribe
Keep Your People Motivated in a Changing World
Buffeted by the headwinds of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies have found it difficult to maintain motivation and improve productivity of their QA engineer teams. Ensuring your tribe remains focused and deliver to expectations is challenging when there is so much external noise disturbing them. Whether your QA engineer team is located on-site, working remotely, or working unsocial shifts, these seven strategies should help you to boost productivity.
1. Create Strategic Goals with a Collective Purpose
A tribe delivers because it shares a collective purpose. This helps to build community and improve morale. People share their knowledge and collaborate enthusiastically. How do you develop this tight-knit community? Develop a strategic objective for your QA engineer tribe to work toward. An objective that all can ascribe to and participate in delivering.
2. Develop Autonomy in Decision Making
We are living in times of constant change. This is unsettling for people. At the start of the pandemic, people needed guidance. Now they need a sense of control. They are the tribe who are responsible for delivering your strategic objectives. They need to build resilience, be innovative, and stay energetic.
Give them control over their time and how they do their jobs. Help them to design their work (within parameters that you set) by allowing them to be curious, give feedback, and suggest improvements that help them deliver. Give your tribe individual and team autonomy. Allot time for brainstorming, discussion, and innovation. Help them to work together to solve problems and contribute to the tribe’s strategic goals in a culture of continuous improvement and ownership.
3. Work to Three Main Objectives Daily
In team meetings and one-to-ones, discuss the goals that your QA engineer team are working toward achieving and set three objectives for each day that will help the team reach their goals. The aim should be for your people to define their own goals and prioritise their time in a collaborative framework.
4. Avoid Burnout
In a tech-led world, it is more difficult than ever for people to switch off from work. There is a constant stream of emails, SMS messages, conversations on project management systems, phone calls, etc. It is important that your organisation ensures your QA engineers benefit from a healthy work/life balance. This will help your people to retain enthusiasm for their work and ‘turn up’ refreshed.
How can you help your QA team avoid burnout?
Here are a few ideas you could put into action:
• Ensure your engineers are taking regular breaks, during which they are expected to ‘disconnect’. Let your people know that it’s fine to take time to recharge
• Encourage people to be creative and engage in projects that they are passionate about. Give them some autonomy to choose the tasks that most appeal to them.
• Listen to feedback – and act on it. Keep in regular touch with members of your team. If people are late to meetings, act out of character, or are unusually absent from work, this could be a sign that they are becoming fatigued. Work with them to decide a plan of action that will relieve their stress and reengage them in their work.
• Offer flexible work patterns to enable QA engineers to work when they are at their most productive
Finally, ensure managers are equipped to recognise the signs of burnout and given the authority to individualise their response.
5. Recognise and Reward
The tribe works when it operates as an upbeat, optimistic, and empowered team. Managers should recognise and reward effort and behaviours that align with your culture and help deliver your objectives. Here at HERO, we have a ‘hero of the month’ award. This is voted on by the team, with voting based upon who has best demonstrated our company’s values. The winner is rewarded with a half-day off work.
Be forgiving when mistakes happen (we’re all human) and provide constructive feedback that delivers learning and develops confidence.
6. Keep Meetings Focused
Meetings should improve productivity by focusing people on what needs to be done. Yet numerous studies show that meetings waste time and destroy productivity. A Harvard Business Review article advises that companies should ‘stop the meeting madness’, and summarises that:
“Many executives feel overwhelmed by meetings, and no wonder: on average, they spend nearly 23 hours a week in them, up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. What’s more, the meetings are often poorly timed, badly run, or both….
“Every minute spent in a wasteful meeting eats into solo work that’s essential for creativity and efficiency.”
To keep meetings focussed and productive:
• Keep meetings short
• Distribute agendas beforehand
• Set objectives for the meeting
• Ensure that only those who need to attend do so
• Close the meeting by defining action points that address the meeting’s objectives
In short, everyone in a meeting should be prepared, understand the objectives, and participate. You might also consider using some of the imaginative meeting techniques used by some of the most creative companies today. These include:
• Apple, where Steve Jobs reduced meeting sizes to include only essential people. If Jobs couldn’t decide if an attendee was essential to the meeting, he would ask them to leave.
• Microsoft, where meetings were fewer but longer (up to four hours)
• Yahoo, where former CEO Marissa Mayer would hold meetings of no longer than 10 minutes: short, sharp, and highly focused.
• Google, where Larry Page made it a rule that each meeting must have a key decision-maker assigned. He or she would be responsible for deciding action points and the way forward.
The overriding goal should be to ensure that no one feels that the meetings they attend are a waste of time. If they do, they will certainly cease to be productive.
7. Employ People Who Align with Your Culture
It’s imperative that the members of your tribe align with your culture. Hiring for cultural fit will ensure that new QA engineers share the beliefs, values, and behaviours of your tribe. You’ll benefit from employees who fit in well, work productively in an autonomous team, contribute to a positive work environment, and are motivated by the collective goals and strategic objectives.