The events of the last few years have allowed the world to break the barriers of traditional ways of doing things. This has led to a huge adoption of remote work and companies diversifying their workforce towards a global reach. Even before then, many organizations already had operations and teams geographically dispersed.
Leading teams in an “in-person” environment can have its challenges, but these challenges and complexities can be multiplied when you work, lead, and manage global or remote teams.
From a personal perspective, by the way, over the past few years I have been fortunate enough to grow, lead and manage QA teams across continents, countries and cities in companies of various sizes operating in multiple industries. Naturally, through these experiences I have picked up key aspects and tips on what to focus on or consider when faced with the opportunity to lead and manage global teams.
When people think of going into management, the first thing that comes to mind is an external view or focus only on the external parts of management. However, it is always important to start with yourself. It is very important that one focuses on this first internal Viewing as your own self brings to mind key aspects such as self-awareness, your individual skills and knowledge, leadership qualities, etc. Then, as we move towards outward or outward appearance, there are related to discipline focus (like QA or Dev related subjects) and also context based focus (such as the settings, technologies, and processes associated with the company one works within). There are many of these internal and external focus points and it would be too many to go into detail about them all, but I will summarize a few below by grouping them into statements and then expanding on each one:
It starts with YOU! Be a role model
A leader and manager with experience and knowledge in whatever area they lead is more trusted and respected by the individuals and teams they lead. Having diverse knowledge within the QA space, both technically and analytically, is one such example that comes to mind. For example, being able to engage hands-on with your team members on the details of test scenarios or test cases, context-based testing (and agile) process interactions, and mix it with test automation, performance testing, system technical aspects. architecture etc. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need to be an expert in all of the above (or other QA/Test related concepts), but rather be able to learn about it, where it fits, and what it takes to get there. there.
There are also important points in the internal focus, such as:
- Flexibility– Things are going to get tough, how do you weather the storm and be ready to do it all over again if you have to?
- Courage-Speak and represent your team in situations where it is necessary. Even though it’s an uncomfortable or uncomfortable situation, have the courage to, for example, highlight the need to stop or delay a release because your team isn’t comfortable or unsure about something leading up to the release.
- Be a good listener and be present-You must be there to hear your team’s concerns, be present, listen and respond/act when necessary. Your team members are exposed to situations and information that you may not always be in, sometimes allowing them to be your “eyes and ears.” For example, setting up regular 1:1s or meetings with your team members can help identify trends or issues that need attention. In practice, something like team members stressing that there’s too little time to focus on test automation with current delivery pressures can help you as a leader/manager plan how to strike the perfect balance, either by moving staff but also by skilling up. on others. creating velocity on when to automate or even focus on intra-sprint test automation.
Dynamics of people
There is an added dimension to managing teams in different geographic locations compared to a single location management style. Several key factors are important to achieve effective results.
– Build and maintain the right team structure
When working in remote and global teams, the element of team dynamics and balance is an additional angle to cover (also important in any context, I might add).
Making sure that as a manager you have the right skills in the right region can be a challenge. So understand the market and region you are hiring and retaining the team members will go a long way to creating an even more effective team. It may be that the supply of QA engineers with extensive performance testing experience in a particular geographic region thrives, so you can make sure that your hiring efforts are focused on that region (if that’s in the company’s plans, of course).
-Increasing confidence from a distance
Employees usually give their best when they work a a manager they can trust. As a remote manager, you need to find creative ways to build trust between you and your team, as well as create a platform build that trust and support among team members. Ultimately, this also creates a degree of comfort and a safe space where results have to compromise compared to a “low trust” environment.
-All that comes with management/leadership
As a manager, you need to be prepared for additional administrative work. Some of the usual duties under the manager’s focus are aspects like dealing with performance reviews, leaving applications, some awkward discussions, etc. Again, these tasks become a bit more difficult when your team is in different locations and most importantly when you are not physically present. Build your organizational and time management skills you will add more to your arsenal to be more effective.
Company context and delivery focus
In addition to all of the above, which is somehow directly transferable when moving across companies, however, the increased effectiveness as a manager/leader is most relevant to the context of the current company/organization you are currently in. in and serving.
– To acquire knowledge of the company’s field, system and processes,
To be able to continue to perform, as a manager, you must instill confidence that you are first and foremost operating effectively within the system in which the organization operates. As a QA manager, you often have to be resourceful when supporting and leading your team. Then showing that to senior management, including the C-level, is where the perfect balance needs to be struck. So in a way it’s important to have a 360 view of everything and not be afraid to get stuck in. In this section there are several examples.
- As a manager, do I know how data flows through systems so that when test planning occurs, the right QA can be assigned or engaged to ensure all areas are covered? Or even that you can review some high-level test scenarios to make sure coverage is effectively achieved in this area.
- From a process perspective, how can the QA discipline be used effectively to drive QA standards that will ultimately lead to an improved team and better day-to-day processes?
– Involvement in delivery and release delivery
Being a driver from a QA perspective directly or indirectly (through team members) related to delivery and releases. Driving features and functionality that ultimately lead to an organization’s competitive advantage, financial gain and growth is primarily what Information Technology/Information Systems/Engineering departments are for. Since the transformation of QA is central to this dynamic, it is a huge differentiator for the QA manager to aim to be a key player in this space.
The modern QA manager must be a comprehensive manager, especially given the challenging and dynamically evolving landscape that surrounds us. Achieving a balance between people skills, technical knowledge, process know-how and much more is where huge gains can be made, especially when leading and managing global teams. My experiences have allowed me to learn (and continue to learn) to develop a flexible, change and adapt mindset approach when dealing with the many complexities in the QA space.
Evolve, adapt and act.
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