Monday, May 7, 2018

Changing jobs, setting goals

As I return to office after a week in conference, I come back to a new job. Yours truly is now "senior manager" of two R&D teams. And it was a position I resisted for quite a while until yet another 180 turn to see how things I believe in are when lived for real.

Before I was "just a tester" - with the reminder that no one is just anything. My title was "Lead Quality Engineer" and it meant that my responsibility in the teams was to be a senior senior tester. As someone who has been around a while, I knew that I wasn't serving only my team's developers as the tester, but working on the system to which my team contributed. And just as any other senior senior team member in a self-organized team, I could manage my work, propose improvements for the entire team and drive through changes across what ever organizational limit I felt like tacking.

As "just a tester" who just so happened to also be capable of all things management, requirements, programming and testing, I could model what a team member looks like. I could do things that needed doing, not things that I was told that I need to do. I could show that it is a normal case to have "just testers" who talk to all levels of management and consistently get heard. I could show that "just testers" care deeply for developers ability to focus and work. And I could show that "just testers" change the world on aspects that people believe cannot be changed.

So, now I am a manager. I intend to experiment with a few major things in my new position:
  1. Don't change. As a non-manager, I believed in team self-organization and decision-making. I intent to stick to my beliefs and resist the "managers decide" power tripping that is all too common. I intend to see how much I can do things just as I used to, spending most of my days testing happily. I was available to every one of my now direct reports as a tester, and I am available to them as their manager. Not changing things for worse will be a major effort, and require some candid discussions.
  2. Game the Annual Reviews to Tolerable. As manager, I have to run the company appointed annual review processes with my direct reports. I have hated the process, especially  the part that ends up with emails saying things like "your performance evaluation for last year set during review discussion remained the same after the company-wide calibration process.". I hate stack ranking. And I hate trying to fit people into the same mold over finding their unique strengths, allowing and encouraging job crafting. I have no idea what I do with those, and how much the process allows leeway, but I will figure it out. 
Not changing will be hard. Already my usual request of "let's make sure we can easily automate tests against  the new GUI technology" was taken more seriously with devs immediately coming back with Proof of Concept on testability in addition to just the prototype, with the half-serious joke of "must do when the soon to be our manager tells us". And a dev just came to me asking to pair test tomorrow - never happened before.