The Skill of Asking For Help
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main - John Donne. As a team member, you are working, don’t hesitate to ask your colleagues to help you in getting better, after all, your main goal is the same
A little help goes a long way, asking for this is never so bad. As testers, we work hard. We go into the office slightly earlier and leave a little later (especially during release days). When we get home, we do some reading and prepare ourselves for another day. This kind of pace may not be sustainable in the long term, but that’s okay. For our career and ourselves, we give it our all.
Still, even with our work ethic, we would not be successful through our sheer determination and our energy alone. Everyday, in every part of our lives, we rely on outside help.
My current position is my first job outside of university,I got excited about the company, and the role. The first few weeks was a challenge to say the least, I got connected with people not just from the development team, but from the wider business teams. They helped me quickly learn about the business, manage my workload, and most importantly understand the importance of the role I play. From the developers helping me understand the system, the CEO communicating his vision and the product manager who decides what is the highest priority - I can attribute the majority of my success to my work colleagues.
You are not an army of one
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success - Henry Ford
Even though I am the only tester in the company, I am not alone when it comes to testing. As you progress each day, you'll want to reach out to a few key people for help to achieve your goals. You will want a mix of people who can help with a variety of areas and do you a few favors. Some people may play more than one part, but here are a few to consider
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants - Isaac Newton
They are guides or experts who give you specific feedback and advice. Here a few benefits of having a mentor (or more).
- Provides impartial advice and encouragement
- Assists with problem solving
- Offers professional development
- Encourages reflection on practice
Choose Mentors carefully and ask yourself if you really need one . If you already know what you want to do, just figure out how to make it happen.
Credible authority figures who have the ability to connect you with other professionals and help your personal development. These can be people from your wider business teams. In testing terms, you'll want to connect more to other people to pick a part how you test, talk to users to understand their perception of the platform, and perhaps seek other companies to progress.
One that has helped me the most. We are social animals and if we promise we do something, we feel guilty if we don’t do it. Research shows that having an exercise partner can be highly effective at ensuring we will actually work out and not just talk about it. This doesn't just apply to working out, it applies to everything you do in life. When you feel like you want to go on holiday to a country, you'll feel more imvolved when someone has given you responsibility to organise it.
Currently, I am doing a 30 day challenge with a good friend of mine that ensures that I spend atleast an hour a day into reading some material on software testing, and think of ways to apply it in the workplace. Small daily actions lead to strong compounding effects.
Your path will be “smoother” if you identify and connect with these people. You don’t need to have all of them in one go, start with one and build from there.
Ask Specific Questions
I know lots of things -- your inquiry needs to be more specific - Neal Shusterman
If you don’t understand what you are doing, so you ask questions to better understand thing, you also don’t want to ask too many questions or too many people. Asking everyone you know questions for a specific release is like trying to serve everyone in the world. We simply do not have enough time.
“Spray and Pray” is not the best thing to do, unless you have unlimited resources and time at your disposal. You should start with a specific list of things that you would like help on and a list of people that you already know that maybe able to help you.
Here’s a few thing I have learned when asking for things:
- Ask about one thing - DO NOT create a shopping list to ask one person. Just ask one question and ensure that the question you ask is something that they are most likely to be in the position to help you with. Here is an example, I wanted to find out how other companies do QA. The first person I reached out to was a friend of mine from University who also has the same job title as I do.
- Explain why you need this - If you go out there just blurting out the question without giving context, people are not able to give you the best answer that they could possibly give. In my example above, I have also added to the conversation that learning about how other companies do QA may help me think about certain things in a different light. Also that I am always looking for better ways to improve how I do my job.
- Flattery - Say something nice about the person, not what they’re wearing or the environment you’re in. Explain why you’ve come to them for help but don’t overdo it.
- Sometimes you won’t get what you need - This is just life. You can never be 100% about something, but don’t get discouraged. Ask someone else and you’ll eventually find someone who knows the answers to your questions.
- Give Back - When someone has done something for you, give something back. Be thankful that someone has done you a favor, for without them you would be able to progress.
TL;DR - No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. As keep progressing in your career and as a person, ask for a little help and don’t forget to give back.