The last section I’ll talk about is self-review. This entails thinking hard about where you are now, the skills and knowledge you have, the tools you use, the techniques you use, everything that is part of you doing your job. And then, take this picture, and measure it against where you want to be, what things you want to be doing. What can you start doing or stop doing? Is the way you do things today, the best way to do it or the most interesting way to do it? If not, then how can you change it? Even with decades of experience, it’s unlikely you know the best way to do everything and have completely mastered every aspect of your role. So there’s always room for growth.
Like a sports team watches video replays of the game to see where they have made mistakes or missed opportunities, we need to retrospectively look at ourselves and our processes and see where we can improve. Or something you just want to do differently to mix things up a bit. Only you will know the parts of your job that are boring to you. Think through, ask people or read about what you can do to change it up?
Is there a manual process you can automate? Is there a new technology or tool you can try out? Can you have a go at part of the process that someone else normally handles? Identify an area you want to change and then look for ways to make it happen, which will probably come back to your reputation and relationships as we discussed earlier.
Let me share some experiences I’ve had with self-review.
Early on in my career I was noticing that I was finding great enjoyment in writing
automated code to test our UI, particularly for the complex parts of the app where I really had to solve some tricky problems. So my change I wanted to make was actually just to spend more time doing this kind of testing. So I endeavoured to find more ways to get benefits out of writing automated solutions for test cases, because I enjoyed doing it.
A review might just be to help identify the parts of your role that you enjoy doing and thinking through how you can bring more of that type of work into your role.
Reviewing the way I was being a bottleneck for testing within our team as I mentioned in part 1 of this series led to changes in our team’s processes and this also enabled me to spend some more time learning some developer skills as I tried my hand doing some developer work within the team, making use of the reduced testing requirements. And I liked it.
Perhaps you can find other roles that you can try your hand at to see if you like them and incorporate them into your role. This is the idea behind being a T-Shaped team member, where you bring multiple skills to the team, and so is of course a desirable characteristic for your company as well.
Perhaps the biggest action to come out of reviewing myself in the past year was in my decision to enter the public testing world through blog writing and seeking to speak at a conference. Previously I wasn’t too interested in writing anything or sharing with the general public, I didn’t think anyone would care about what I had to say and I was worried about how people would react, but I saw a great area for growth which would challenge me in a big way to work on my communication skills and respond to any feedback I would get. I’ve now been writing for over a year and have now spoken at my first conference, showing how far I have come in this journey. A huge change from high school Pete who would struggle to do a 3-minute speech with palm cards.
My final take home challenge is to take some time, and think through the skills you have, the tools and techniques you use and the processes you use. Where are the boring bits, what do you want to do more or less of? Find the areas you want to change, and make it happen!
I’m enjoying sharing this journey, so I’ll add in a few extra stories of changes I’ve gone through in my current job.
In my 7 years I’ve worked under 4 different QA team leads. I’ve also worked alongside 6 different testers and am currently in a team of 3 testers. So there have been significant changes in my role that have been somewhat out of my control. It’s quite common that others coming and going from the company provide new opportunities to grow and be challenged in different ways. Each manager had different leadership styles and as I grew in my knowledge, new opportunities and responsibilities were opened up to me. I’ve grown with each manager and I’ve learnt new things from each new tester that I’ve been able to work alongside.
Sometimes being in a company for a while means that new roles open up and you find yourself being asked to try out new roles as the needs arise because you carry with you a lot of knowledge about the company already. This happened for me 5 years ago and I had a brief stint in a DevOps role. My responsibility was to create testing environments for each product team to work on. That was certainly not a role I had imagined going into and there was a lot of unknowns about what I would be doing, plus I had to learn quite a lot in this new role. It was an interesting experience and I definitely learnt some new skills, but in the end it wasn’t for me so I went back to testing.
Perhaps there are opportunities to try out different roles in the company you might be interested to take up. It’s certainly easier to do that in a company you already know, with people you already know then it would be to start a new role in a new company where there’s twice as much to learn. It might not even be a full-time swap, maybe you could just take on part of a new role alongside testing?
Finally, a challenge for you, coming back to where I started the series with Change.org. If there was one thing you could change about your role at work or your company, what would it be? And how would you go about getting others to sign on to your petition to see it happen? Create the change you want to see.
As we conclude: at the start of this series I asked if you currently or have ever become bored or stagnant in your job, like you weren’t growing anymore and needing to change jobs. I then challenged you to create the change you want where you are now so you can start to grow again without the hassle of changing jobs.
So now, having read, I hope you feel refreshed and excited about new opportunities for growth. Be inspired to make changes and improvements where you are without the hassle of changing jobs.
- Make use of your reputation and relationships to drive opportunities for change.
- Start to consider if there is someone you can share your knowledge with who will challenge your assumptions and someone you can learn from.
- Reflect on whether the things you’ve always done are still the best way and the areas of your work you want to change.
I really hope you are more equipped to shake off any feelings of boredom or stagnation and can start to grow once again.
Thanks for reading.