This is the first post of a series I’m planning to write about Software Testers motivation and how to best manage it. I’m a strong believer that people are everything and that they should be your priority #1. I might state the obvious but my various professional experiences in various organizations told me that people were not necessarily the upmost priority to some.
One of the many tools I have in my management toolbox is the regular use of software test conferences. I find various benefits to have some Software testers to attend such conferences:
The most obvious reasons is the knowledge they should get out of it. The quality of the presentations or workshops varies during any given conference, but if you do your homework you should be able to maximize your chance to get good value out of the conference:
* Pick the best presenters. Google is your friend to understand a bit better who they are and their level of competency. They also might share some of their previous presentation on the web.
* Pick subjects which will allow you to apply some of what you hear in your day to day job.
* Opposite to the previous idea, pick up something completely outside of your current responsibilities which will forces you to think out of the box.
* Pick topics outside of your comfort zone. Next time you run into this area, you’ll be more confident.
I consider test conferences to be part of my reward strategy. I have a tendency to have my top performers to participate to such and it should be part of their objectives.
They’re also part of my training strategy. Formal training are good in certain area to get to the next level of excellence. Conferences allow your testers to get exposed to a broad number of topics in a very short time. It usually doesn’t go very deep but give them an opportunity to open up their appetite on various subjects. Follow-up is critical and usually after each conference they should have in mind one or two new areas they’d like to grow during the year.
Networking is a definite advantage. Whether you work for a small, medium or large company, you need to develop your professional network, especially in the area you’re primarily working in. You never know when you’d need help in certain area, never know where your professional career is going to take you. You shouldn’t focus so much on the number of people you connect with, but the quality of these people.
You should definitely push the best members of your organization to be presenter. It will give them an opportunity to be exposed to public speaking (which is key if they want to take their career to the management path), be recognized as expert by a broader community and give them an opportunity to promote their own organization and team.
If you’re managing Software Testers teams in part of the world you’re not necessarily familiar with, test conferences are also a good way to understand a bit better the overall level of test competency for a particular city. Attending such conferences should give you some good market information. You might even connect with potential good candidates !
If for any reason (logistics, workload etc.) you can’t have enough of your testers to participate, you should encourage them to watch some of the presentations on the web. Nowadays, a lot of them are recorded and could be a good watch. It doesn’t replace the real deal but they still could pick up interesting ideas. I cannot recommend enough for all your employees to watch the GTAC (Google Test Automation Conference) presentation Google makes available on their website. If you’re into automation (don’t we all are?) they’re the best.