Create a safe environment for your team

I haven’t blogged in quite a while. This thing here lay around 9 weeks till today.

Today, I learned to appreciate quite a few things from my hobbies, that are absolutely essential for my job, too. To have a chance on really focusing on your job, and have a chance to get in the zone, it’s important to prepare your work environment, so that you don’t have to care about things around you. As a team lead, it is – or at least should be – your job, to prepare and provide such a safe environment for your team members, especially the more unexperienced.

When turning wood, you have to prepare of course a block of wood, your lathe and a gouge or two and a skew chisel. But that is by far not enough. You have to prepare your environment. Are there things in my way when I move the tool, is there anything lying around loose, that might be rattled around. Switch on your air cleaning devices, clean up the floor around you, wear something that can get dirty, wear your safety gadgets, like visors, ear protection, and mouth protection. Then you can fully concentrate on your piece of wood. Wood chips flying around, dust in the air, a wider reach with your tool handle, nothing should distract you from turning that piece of wood into something round and beautiful.

When sewing this afternoon it was the same. Clean up everywhere, when ironing the cloth you don’t want to care about stuff on the board. When sewing some meters of cloth, you don’t want to think about needles falling down, where are my scissors, is there enough thread on the spindle, and so on. You just want to concentrate on that seam. So you need to prepare.

In testing it is the same. When preparing for a test session you should have everything prepared. Specifications are there, clear and precise, questions have been answered, test data is there as far as possible, the environment is in use exclusively by the test team, the latest build is deployed. All devices are there and in the condition you need them. Of course that sounds like preparation work that every tester needs to take care of by herself, but as a team lead you can prepare as much as possible for all of them.

But I tend to say, that there are more things to take care of, and it’s mostly the lead’s job to take care. Reducing the amount of distraction, try to be the point of contact for your team, while they are testing. Assist your team by taking care of and reducing administrational stuff where possible. If your company has lengthy general information meetings, try to keep them outta there and deliver them necessary information summarized. Make their jobs easier.

As a lead you should be used to distraction. SQUIRREL!!! So, take the extra tasks to cover your team’s back to give them the focus they need.

This is hard sometimes, especially when you are stuck in meetings, or want to test for yourself finally for half an hour. But in my opinion it is more important to keep the team concentrated and focused, because you won’t finish the half hour anyway without an email popping in or a colleague asking for something. So get used to it and be the concierge of the team.

Isn’t that a nice title: test concierge?

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