Yellow smiley faces for managing testers blog postAs a software test manager, one of the most important elements of the job is not giving out tasks, but managing testers so that they are happy and stay with your company. The longer they stay (assuming they are good at what they do), the less you have to do as a manager as their skills increase. And, a happy tester is a more productive and effective tester.

So how do you make sure your testers are happy with their jobs? Good salaries with great benefits and a lively work environment only go so far. Testers want job satisfaction – they want to feel like they are part of something and that their contributions are appreciated. If testers feel like their company invests in them, they will invest in the company. Here are a few tips for keeping your testers happy and making sure they feel like they’re doing more than just working for a paycheck.

7 Ways to Keep Your Testers Happy

1. Nurture your company’s culture

A healthy company culture is the most powerful way to find, build, and retain an engaged, high-performing workforce. Your company’s culture should inspire your testers to achieve great things, so choose the values that define your company and encourage your testers to express those values in their everyday behavior. Instituting a recognition program can help breathe life into these values and make them actionable for testers every day.

2. Distribute a tester’s handbook

Create a document that answers most of the common questions about individual testing roles and the company. Give this to new hires on their first day for quick reference so that they feel comfortable adjusting to their new workplace and know who to go to when they have specific questions. Also make sure your existing testers have the most up-to-date version. This handbook should reflect the culture of your company’s business and should ideally include simplified job descriptions, the vision, mission, and history of your business along with a code of conduct, FAQs, and details on bonuses or any other remuneration plans.

3. Make training and learning readily available

Most people naturally want to improve themselves. Offer free training programs and educational opportunities to anyone who wants to partake. When you empower your testers with knowledge and skills, you give them the opportunity to learn and develop in their own positions or into other positions. Your tester turnover drops, productivity stays high, and everyone keeps current with the latest industry developments. It’s a win-win.

4. Encourage sense of ownership

Put someone in charge of each project and have him or her assign the project tasks throughout the team. Each new project can be assigned a different team leader so that everyone has the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat. This creates a stronger sense of responsibility amongst employees, as well as a strong sense of team by blurring the lines between manager and tester.

5. Promote work-life balance

Realize that your testers also have lives outside of their jobs. Leadership should be the first to set the example. Even if you tell your testers that you support their healthy work-life balance, it might not mean they will focus on stepping away from their desks, especially if they see that you don’t. We’ve all seen it – the leader says testers don’t have set hours, but everyone stays until 8 p.m. anyway. So, lead by example and, every chance possible, head out of the office when your eight hours are up. If your testers see that you value personal time, they won’t feel guilty for prioritizing theirs.

6. Pay attention to testers’ needs

Some managers are more task-focused than people-focused – they only pay attention to their to-do lists instead of their testers’ needs, whether those needs are a day off, job training, or something as simple as a new keyboard. In order to make testers happy, you need to make it a priority to truly notice how your testers are feeling. By keeping your head up (and not just at your computer), you’re not only in a better position to see and acknowledge your testers’ needs, but also their contributions, which puts you in a much better position to reward their work.

7. Thank testers for their hard work – always

It’s not that difficult to say thank you to your testers, whether they’re bringing workplace drama to your attention or solving a long-standing problem within the company. Hard work should always be noticed and it should always be made known to your testers that they are appreciated. A verbal “thanks,” a kind note, or even an appreciative email can go a long way.

When each tester is happy to come to work each day, they take pride in the work they are doing, the company they represent and the team around them, and, therefore, are inspired to put their best foot forward. Managing testers is probably more about the soft elements than delegating tasks. Keeping testers happy, and thus keeping them engaged and productive is probably the most important unspoken skill of a test manager.