There are many technical skills that software testers and quality assurance teams must be well-versed in to succeed in their field. While pursuing these tools of the trade, QA professionals should not ignore the need for interpersonal skills, particularly when it comes to communication. Testers no longer work in isolation, spending their days going over code and logging identified defects. The proliferation of agile methods has effectively torn down the silos that have traditionally separated teams and stakeholders. To flourish within this new software testing environment, QA members must be adept at communicating their ideas.
QA manager and TechTarget contributor Baiju M. noted that effective communication enables testers to avoid running into problems due to vague direction or guidance. By establishing clear communication channels with everyone involved in the development process, including clients and developers, QA teams can be sure that their efforts are meeting test requirements and performance needs. Furthermore, team leaders should be comfortable making presentations to project stakeholders and work on shoring up public speaking skills when necessary.
Software Testing Help's Vijay Shinde explained that strong communication skills will help QA leaders state their position on certain matters in a convincing fashion and sway others to see things their way. This is especially important for clearly explaining to team members why certain decisions are being made and the rationale behind any changes in test management strategy.
"If you want to win the arguments (I mean arguments that are right) and find the common solution for your problems with your subordinates then you should be able to express your views effectively," Shinde wrote.
There's always room for improvement
QA team leaders who may lack these particular skill sets can still become effective communicators by making a concerted effort to improve as well as address any deficiencies. According to Shinde, some basic, yet fundamental, changes in the way individuals interact with their co-workers and team members can go a long way toward shoring up communication abilities:
- Speak slowly and clearly so team members can firmly understand your position. Rushing over a point or mumbling will only make it more difficult for you to communicate your thoughts to fellow testers.
- Maintain steady eye contact with individuals with whom you are speaking. This will demonstrate confidence in your argument and show that you are fully engaged in the conversation and coming to some form of agreement.
- Always be an attentive listener when someone else is speaking. Communication is a two-way street, after all. If you don't take the time to actively listen to and consider others' stances, you're essentially talking into a vacuum.