As in every job and even though we do our best to minimize and eliminate them, some stressful situations might occur when you work. These situations should not alarm you as they happened to many before you and probably will happen again in the future. What you and we can do is to try to handle occurring problems and stressful situations the best that we can. That is why we have identified some of them and we will suggest a few tips on how to deal with them.
Losing Focus / Lack of Concentration
Lack of concentration reduces the quality of our work but also might make us feel unhappy because we feel unproductive.
1. Take a break!
2. Switch to other tasks at hand
3. Ask for a "second pair of eyes"
4. Change location/environment
5. Prioritise tasks, do NOT multitask
6. Identify what often breaks your focus and try to mitigate the factor
7. When feeling unproductive, try using Tomato Timer or similar tools
Remember to track the time for all of your work, even the time you felt unproductive because this happens to everyone!
Stress around the 360 Meetings
Time around 360/quarterly reviews can be stressful, so why don't you try this:
- Take a deep breath
- Ask to schedule the time for OKRs
- Remember that this is not that scary at all
A bug in production
- Stay calm
- Which browser/platforms/devices are affected?
- How serious is the bug?
- When was this bug first discovered?
- What are our options to fix it?
- Alignment meeting with the team/client on further steps
- How did this bug get past us?
Remember to analyse the case and make it a learning experience:
- Is this our fault and responsibility?
- How can we prevent future occurrences?
- What can we learn from this?
- If not ours, whose fault is that this happened?
- What is our first choice of action? Slack/Testing/Meeting with a client?
Too many projects in parallel
How to manage them all at the same time - right?
Before you start complying with everyone's wishes, think about:
- PLAN! - How much actual capacity do I have available?
- Prioritise what is really important (migration to production, critical bug etc.)
- Communication with PMs
- Analyse which meetings are important & skip the ones that aren't
- Communicate overlaps and all important events with PMs
- If release dates are known, organize timetable accordingly
- Reserve some time exclusively for Slack communication
- Deal with projects one at the time, do NOT multitask
- Create a summary of time spent and job done
- Set time limits for tasks
- Come to the meetings prepared
And remember - it is ok to say no (although we recommend putting it more nicely :). Multitasking does not increase efficiency, take a break and eliminate distractions.
Dealing with edge cases
When dealing with testing, we might find ourselves often asking the question such as "How much testing is enough?" or "When is it enough and we should stop trying to capture that one bug?"
Be sure to ask yourself these questions instead:
1. Did you go through all test cases at least once?
2. Did you go through all "flows" at least once?
3. Are all high priority tasks done?
4. Are all bugs tested and fixed?
5. Is there more budget and/or time?
Time management with multiple projects
See chapter Too many projects in parallel.
Slack is on fire
Even though from time to time we set the roof on fire with extraordinary performance, your Slack being on fire and constantly making notification sounds is a problem.
- How urgent is something actually?
- You can snooze notifications
- Write meaningful messages, don't just send "hi"
- Use Slack reminders
- Use emojis, threads and statuses
- More often you will find an answer faster by using public channels instead of DMs
- Respect the Slack etiquette
Despite our best efforts, sometime overtime will happen. From time to time, overtime is unavoidable. What is worrying is prolonged overtime since it leads to burnout.
If you notice the overtime is not going away - speak up! Bring it up on daily meetings, weekly scheduling meetings, talk to your team lead, insist that a solution is found.
Our overtime policy:
- Overtime is not something that is expected, it is not "just another day in the office"
- We do not encourage overtime work
- If it happens, it MUST be compensated
Before you go to overtime, try this:
- Find a colleague to help you out
- Find a colleague from the team to help you out
- Make inquiries if it is possible to delay the release
- Try to delegate time from other projects, if possible
- Optimise the testing
And again, always track all of your work because when you do not:
- You don't get recognized for your work
- You get frustrated without anyone knowing it
- You get paid less
- The company earns less
- Staffing deficiencies are not revealed
- You stress others around you by indirectly pressuring them to work more/harder/faster
A crazy deadline was assigned
Here we are talking about situations such as "A build gets released at 9 pm" or "PO/PMs are pressuring you to close the task" or there is "tons of tasks arriving in the last moment".
You might try:
- Remember that sometimes it is ok to "hop-in" at 9 pm and take a look at the build, but don't make it a rule, potentially it is more damage than worth
- Ask your colleagues for help
- Remember that it is ok to say no - we pay extra attention that our work is high in quality
I got a bad build
And probably it won't be the last bad build you got :)
- Bear in mind that everyone can have a bad day, even developers
- Assign the task back to the dev and write in detail all that is wrong and observed
- If this kind of problem is persistent, it is necessary to take action - talk to the colleague, if it doesn't bear fruit, talk to Team Leads
I don't know how to test something
- Take a more close look at the documentation and knowledge repositories (you might find GitHub, JIRA, Confluence, Slack etc. very helpful)
- Use online available resources (Workshops, Handbook, Ministry of Testing, Youtube)
- Ask a colleague who might have already work on something similar to lend you a hand
- If there isn't one, ask within the QA team if someone can help you
- If that doesn't work, try talking to your other colleagues within the company
There is no time for improvements
How to even think about improving any task if we are already short on time when doing the task?
- Clearly and loudly communicate which process would you like to improve - explain why and what is its benefit
- Breakdown the task into smaller, more manageable units
- Create a stand-alone time entry in your calendar dedicated to this improvement
Some say that backlog refinements are the best part of work, and to enjoy them to their full potential, it is good to:
- Be familiar with the project and the app
- Come prepared
- Focus and pay attention during the meeting
- If something is unclear or needs further explanation, speak up and ask questions
- Think as a tester
- Think as an end-user
Constructive questions include, but are not limited to:
- How can I test this better?
- Can I test this?
- Is there a design for this?
- Should this be broken down into smaller tasks?
- I didn't quite understand that, can you please repeat?
- What will happen if I do this/that?
When giving an estimate
- Take all risks into account (broken API, faulty build etc.)
- Add some safety buffer if possible
- If you underestimated the time needed, timely let other team members know about it
- Do not be afraid that you will set a wrong estimate
I am being pressured to "close" a task
When you end up in a situation like this, remember that we prioritize quality over good-looking burndown charts, and we are quality gatekeepers. Be clear about which bugs/tasks you think are problematic, speak to your colleagues and voice your concerns!
Last resort, if you are still being pushed, remind your colleagues that:
- A bug could slip undetected to a production build
- Technical debt could arise
- Poor app performance due to UI/UX problems
How to avoid onboarding shortcomings?
- Define the scope of testing (make a list of everything that needs to be tested, how deep should we go, what is the deadline etc.)
- Have an onboarding with developers
- Have an onboarding about tools/management apps used on the project (such as JIRA and others)
- Ask questions
I feel unhappy working on this project
We are not happy if our colleagues/employees are not happy - we are in this together.
The project is not challenging enough for me
- It's ok to say that you have reached the top of some project
- Be open and frank with your Team Lead
- Maybe some other colleague is dying to get on that project
- Maybe it is a perfect project for a newcomer
The project is too much for me
- The projects aren't randomly assigned, so someone had faith in you, maybe you should too!
- Have a talk with the PM/Team Lead about what exactly is expected from you on the project
- If you are time-pressed - speak up about it
- Every challenge is a great opportunity for improvement
- Talk with your fellow team members about their experiences
- Think about using your educational budget to improve yourself in the field
Organising the chaos
- Define what exactly troubles you
- Come up with potential solutions
- All members have proportional ownership over the project
- Maybe other members have the same problems
- Remember you can always come and talk to your fellow QA team members
How to deal with stiff people
In our professional, just as in our personal life, we might come across people who are hard to deal with. The best course of action is to try and communicate with them, but don't give up on your standard of conversation. Be assertive if needed and prepare well for tough conversations.
If that someone is someone from within the company, you can always bring the topic with your Team Lead. Also, it is possible that other colleagues have the same experience and will bring it up on 360 meetings.
If this situation has occurred with the client, you can talk with your project manager. Moreover, don't take it personally, maybe that is just the way things are done in the client's company. Besides, it is a great way to practice your coping skills.