At XBOSoft, we have a well-defined process for software test team management. However, sometimes there are many non-technical skills need to lead a team to success. As a project manager for more than 5 years at XBOSoft, to satisfy our clients I know that the most important objective for a team is to complete the project task with high quality and efficiency. As a project manager, my responsibility is to lead and manage the whole team to achieve this goal. However, I am always thinking about what interpersonal skills should I have besides technical skills? From my experience, the most important 5 interpersonal skills are:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Motivation
  • Influencing
  • Team building

Of course there are others, but these are the ones that I think are the most important.

Leadership: Leadership is “organizing a group of people toward to achieve a common goal and make them work as an entire team”. As a project manager, I need to get project tasks done through team members. The key elements of effective leadership are Respect and Trust. As a project manager, I respect my team members’ opinions and their individual strengths. Most importantly, I listen to what they have to say before making judgments. I also do what I say, and say what I do coming through on promises I make, no matter how small. This encourages them to do the same. Respecting and trusting team members in turn, wins their respect and trust. This is the first step of success project to a project manager.

When we work on a large project, there may be thousands of test cases executed in a round of regression testing. As I am also testing and looking at critical items, I don’t have time to review everyone’s work on my team. I need to trust that their defects are reproducible and documented well.  This only comes through time working together and with good communication…

Communication: Communication is one of the most important factors for a project’s success or failure. Open communication with team members creates mutual trust and improves relationships among team members and project manager.

Effective communication can help the entire team. A project manager should gather information from team members and other stakeholders, make judgments on what information should be delivered to different team members, reorganize the content, and then disseminate it to proper person in proper time and place. Usually, project meetings with my team last less than 30 minutes. I mainly speak in the first 15 minutes simply and directly to share information, assign tasks etc. The last 15 minutes is for free discussion that helps a lot to figure out problems and find solutions. I also learn a lot from their experience.

Motivation: Team members’ commitment is the key factor of a project’s success, and is strongly influenced by motivation. Proper motivation can help team members work more effectively, and release their potential energy. Avenues for developing motivation include but are not limited to:

  • Recognition
  • Job satisfaction
  • Challenging work
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Achievement and growth: As an example, we conduct many internal training sessions. Not only does help improve team members’ skills, but they are interested in them and grow professionally.
  • Sufficient financial compensation

Influence: You just can’t order it and be done, so influencing is a necessary skill to convince team members to work hard, with high efficiency and quality. A project manager can influence team member behavior in several ways:

  • Lead by example
  • Commitments
  • Self-confidence and gravitas
  • An ability to be flexible and adaptable to different people and situations
  • Strong listening and observation skills
  • Energy and enthusiasm

I always set procedures in the beginning of a project and make sure to follow them myself. I usually speak to my team members about how serious our job is and how our client is depending on us to find defects so that their customers are satisfied with the software.

Team building: A team is a group of people working towards a common goal. Team building is one of the many elements that enable the team to achieve that goal. Project managers typically lead team building activities to motivate individual team members to stay together, work together, and achieve together. We do many team building activities including:

  • Eat together every two months
  • Do several technical training sessions each month
  • Do some quality development games
  • Do some sports competitions each season such as basketball, badminton, etc.

As a Project manager, I organize team-building activities to promote trust, understanding, open communication among team members and team member commitment. For software test team management, I firmly believe that providing leadership with mastery of these top 5 interpersonal skills will lead to project success for XBOSoft and our clients.