How to Build a Successful Testing Team? How to Increase and Maintain Team Motivation?

Get a super-detailed guide on how to build a successful and highly proficient testing team, and discover how to keep your people motivated.

Get motivation for work, find your way to success, and stay inspired. Don’t these phrases sound slightly like irritating twaddle because everybody says them? Yes, they are. But don’t leave this article in despair: the way to stay in love with what you do, build a successful software testing team, and keep your testing team motivated about their work exists!

Motivation is not an enigma nor a buzzword, it’s simply a wise strategy for managing your time and communication with your people. Today DogQ team will share its secrets of staying inspired with you, as well as tell you some important tips on how to build a successful testing team. We will look at forming a QA team from 3 different angles: team building methodology, personal skills of a leader, and secrets of creating a relaxed but motivating atmosphere in the team. Are you thrilled? Here we go!

First Comes First: Form a Perfect Software Testing Team Structure

So, let’s start with the basics, and it’s a methodology for forming a successful software testing team. And even if it sounds banal, a good testing team is one that is skilled enough to perform all the QA tasks. Thus, we came up to rule #1: you need to form a good testing team right from the beginning, and not on the go. How to do this right? Here are the top 3 pieces of advice from the DogQ team:

1. Check Your Testers’ Knowledge Base

As we all know, testing is a continuous learning process, so a good tester should have a good knowledge of the general testing process and also be interested in modern trends and new techniques of QA, always seeking more information.

A professional QA is one that aspires to get as much experience as possible and tries to work with various platforms, infrastructures, and tools – check this out when forming your QA team.

What’s also important, check if your future colleagues possess domain knowledge, as this will make them understand customer needs, guess where the system may fail, and create relative test cases a way better than a QA engineer from another business field.

2. See If Testers Follow the Basic QA Process

Basically, any software testing process can be divided into the following stages, and a professional tester should know and follow them without a doubt:

  1. Defining specification requirements.
  2. Test planning.
  3. Test cases creation and prioritization.
  4. Tests executing and control.
  5. Tracking progress.
  6. Recording the actual results.
  7. Status reporting to the client.

So, pay attention to their knowledge of these basic stages when forming a software testing team.

3. Check Whether Testers Can Test Independently and in a Team

Technical knowledge is not all. Good interpersonal skills and acting as a part of the team are also super important for building a successful and well-knitted QA team. This quality allows you to communicate effectively with colleagues, customers, and clients, give a positive uplift to your team, and build a good reputation for your company.

So, while building your software testing team, you better pay attention to the personalities of every tester you’re going to employ, and decide upfront whether they fit your company spirit or not, and do they possess the necessary skills to work both alone and share responsibilities in a team.

Tip at this stage: hire team members who vary in their experiences.

It’s important to remember that you need to form a team of narrowly focused specialists with various testing roles, not a group of full-stack individual contributors, and act this way. In other words, just like in a music group, you need a variety of numerous skills and abilities on your QA team to make it successful.

Hire team members who vary in their experience

Thus, apart from checking testers’ knowledge and skills, try to build a QA team comprised of testers with different professional backgrounds, so that every individual would have a defined role and position in the team. Of course, the balance of strengths and weaknesses in the team should be optimized, and in the next chapter, we will share our advice on how you can do it the optimal way.

Second Comes Second: Manage Wisely Software Testing Roles

So, now you have already formed a good testing team. But how to keep it doing well, let’s say 1 month? 1 year, or even 10 years? Here we came to rule #2: don’t punish your people for mistakes, but learn from them, and grow together with your team members. Let’s map out the following top 3 pieces of advice at this stage:

4. Define Your Skill Gaps, and Seek to Fill Them

This advice is useful both when you’re just forming your team and when you need to extend it with new players: perform a gap analysis, create a needs map, and try to satisfy them.

In other words, list out all the tasks you want your team (not just one individual) to perform: functional testing, penetration testing, and regressive testing (see also The Ultimate Website Testing Checklist). Then, consider the types of clients you work for small businesses, large businesses, and the like, and do in every field of your interest. DogQ team recommends choosing at least 7 skill sets that will have the biggest impact on your company and your clients. These might include:

  • Technology experience: desktop software, mobile apps, web apps, internal software.
  • Experience with different types of testing clients: startups and small, mid-sized, and large companies.
  • Usage testing experience: functional testing, security testing, speed, load/performance, boundary cases, corner cases.
  • Testing experience: new to the industry, some experience, mid-career, decades.
  • Locations where they’ve worked: Silicon Valley, innovation hubs, rural communities, urban centers.
  • Industry sector experience: finance, medical, cloud computing, education, agriculture.
  • Personality type: leader, follower, cheerleader. etc.

Next, take a look at how much of this needs map your current team covers, and then try to find the fitting candidates to fill in the gaps. Looking at teams in this way gives you a perspective that you would miss if you evaluated candidates only via an individual ranking compared to one another.

5. Avoid the Groupthink Trap

There are a lot of risks in QA testing. But some risks are hidden, and a big one is falling into the groupthink trap. This is when everyone on the team thinks the same, works the same, and tries to solve problems in the same way.

In QA, you’re always going to be finding new problems your team has never encountered before, so you shouldn’t solve them by saying, “That’s just the way we do it here”, but try to find outstanding solutions.

If the old ways had worked, you would have already caught the bugs and they wouldn’t be a problem. So, be brave enough to try a new solution, and you’ll come up with new ways to address those challenges. Often, that solution can come from understanding past experiences with another client, language, or industry.

6. Remember It’s All a Learning Experience

In this fast-moving environment, where designs are likely to change and user journeys are not set in stone, like in eCommerce testing, for example, it’s okay to write poor-quality tests sometimes. And it’s completely okay if all the tests written failed.

Help your team grow on their mistakes

Seeing your tests fail less than 24 hours after you’ve created them can be quite a demoralizing feeling. In a fast-moving environment, it’s okay for your tests to be red. The important thing is to keep your team doing tests, and adding tests as these will be your lifeline when you are getting ready for a release and you have a short amount of time available. Plus, looking at testing as a learning opportunity will help your team grow a lot: testers will be able to reuse some code they had written for future tests.

Third Comes Third: Deal With Crises as a Professional

Finally, we came up with the last rule in building a successful testing team: take productivity crises, negative changes in projects, various failures, and even scrapped projects as a fully-fledged part of your testing team’s journey and be ready for them. That means that you should react to such situations naturally, with a cool head and strong hand to show your team the right way out of the situation. Below we will give you some pieces of advice on how you can do it:

7. Deal With Changing Priorities as a Guru

Testers often gain considerable customer behavior knowledge while navigating the application from the users’ perspective multiple times a day. However, this can be difficult to sustain when technical assignment, designs, user journeys, and even business logic can change several times throughout the project duration.

How does a tester keep on top of all these changes while maintaining tests and finding bugs which are relevant and up-to-date with the latest requirements? Within this environment, it can be hard to stay motivated and perform your role at the level you aspire to. But it’s okay. The only thing to do is to keep doing your work, test by test, try to preserve a comfortable level of energy in the team and calm them down showing that it’s a must-have part of any project and all the delays and changes are okay because they lead to a better project result (see also our New Automation Testing Guide for startups).

In other words, show your team that the holdbacks you have are as much important as the ordinary working process, cause altogether they lead to a better final result. Try to make your people see these situations not as obstacles, but rather as small steps to future project success.

8. Deal With Design Changes Using a Big-Picture Approach

Designs are often not complete before you start development, and quite often there can be changed during the project duration. This impacts the tester quite significantly and can cause them to think they should wait until the front end is stable. Often it is recommended to not automate testing when the front end is changing frequently, but that’s not the right way.

To avoid automated testing till the frontend is stable is not the right strategy

The right way is to focus on what you can control. Make your team abstract from design details and concentrate on the big picture: visual aspect, accessibility, and performance. Focusing on whole-page visual snapshots, accessibility reports and page render performance metrics will help testers work for the final result and continue their work without becoming annoyed by all the wasted effort.

Tip: when the design is unstable, try to use visual testing and automation testing with no coding. They help testers don’t target specific parts of the page or components, but to see the big picture, and then easily replace the base snapshots when the designs will be stabilized. It’s also good to use Google Lighthouse for identifying images that hadn’t been optimized – it’s better to fix them right away than at the last minute before release. Plus, you can always use our Detailed Strategy to Speed Up QA, in which we give a number of advice on how to improve performance with automation testing.

9. Deal With Projects Being Scrapped

Even if your team delivers the highest quality product, and works overnights, there can be a situation when a customer (including internal) simply closes the project because they’ve run out of budget, etc. And this can be quite demolishing, upsetting, and even like a real shock to the team which has been working really hard towards a common goal.

Go through hard times together with your team

So how to react in such a situation? Try to realize yourself and make your team understand that some situations and events are out of your and their control, and it’s okay. You can’t really influence the decisions your customer takes, so take them easily and try to cheer up your team.

Better remind your people that the knowledge they gained wasn’t in vain, but it will definitely help them in future projects.

Preparing Yourself to Be a Successful Software Testers’ Team Leader

So far, we’ve been describing what you as a manager or CEO should do to build a good testing team, how it’s better to lead your people, and how to grow with them. But as we all know, bad leaders can’t create a successful and inspired team, as the best example is always the one shown by yourself.

So, what about some leadership qualities? DogQ team recommends paying attention to the following top 14 personal characteristics that will be very handy for you as a QA team leader:

  • Believe in your team and make people themselves believe that they’re the best QA team on Earth: if you as a leader will think of your people as losers, then so it be.
  • Set high standards for yourself and your team: don’t settle for mediocrity, when you and your people deserve to achieve more and have a perfect working environment.
  • Spread energy, enthusiasm, and positivity: if you’ll always upset and out of energy, your people will think that you don’t really care for the working process and its results.
  • Show your team value: testing teams may not realize why their roles are important for the business, so show them how their work results affect the whole company’s growth.
  • Share your vision of where you should go and say it clearly: a good leader clearly communicates the vision/mission of the organization and helps team members to focus on the vision.
  • Bridge skill gaps in your team: help them to find time and resources to attend the required training, courses, and certifications to grow as professionals.
  • Guide them through your work and life examples: people will work far better and trust you more when they realize that you had all these problems they’re going through now.
  • Be sincere but caring when discussing failures or successes: showing your real emotions makes people trust you, feel comfortable and be honest in their turn, so be yourself and let others be themselves. But remember to express your emotions in an ecological and non-toxic way, and try your best to settle this attitude among the teammates.
  • Be a persuasive but wise communicator: believe in what you say, encourage others to believe in you, but always be ready to hear an opposite opinion and work with it.
  • Do not avoid conflicts: listen carefully to what people say, define what’s important for them and what they’re trying to achieve to resolve the conflict at its route.
  • Ask your people’s advice when making important decisions: good leaders rely not only on their feelings or instincts but ask opinions of others to look at the question from another angle.
  • Continuously recognize outstanding work: to uplift your testing team spirit, praise their achievements, and do it personally, saying the names out loud.
  • Provide regular and tangible feedback: be clear and direct when giving feedback, so that people know exactly what you value in their work and what should be improved.
  • Encourage testers to speak up and express themselves without fear: when they will share their opinions, thoughts, and beliefs without hesitation, they will feel valued and you will always have numerous creative ideas on how to grow your business.
Be a good leader yourself

Final Boss: Creating and Maintaining Motivation

So, here we are coming to the main and the most thrilling part of our guide motivation, or how to increase project team performance. And despite all hustle and bustle that’s connected with the term, we’ll try to show you that motivation isn’t an enigma, but a real goal you can easily reach by following our team recommendations. Are you ready? Here we go:

10. Share Your Vision and Set Clear Goals

What is the most important part of software development, testing, and any work in general? A clear goal. You can only motivate and inspire your team if they know what they are working for. Make sure your employees are aware of your vision and what your ultimate goals are for the business.

This encourages everyone to work together to achieve better results. As well as this, regularly set clear and measurable goals that are framed by this vision so that you and your team can track progress and they are able to see their success in a tangible way.

11. Communication Is the Key

Effective communication with and within your team is a key factor in success. Help your testing team communicate regularly with each other on the following topics:

  • Documentation of the work products: developers and testers should be synchronized in their approach to effective work and software development life cycle.
  • Documentation of the test team: the Test Plan, Test Cases, Test Strategy, Test Defect Report, etc.
  • Various feedback related to functional documents, specification requirements, and estimates.

Effective communication in the team should be professional, precise, diplomatic, and effective in the interest of the project, so help your people grow their soft skills if needed.

Plus, communication is a two-way street and you should make sure that there is a constant flow of communication between you and your employees. This way you can not only keep them up-to-date with what needs to be done but you can also listen to their ideas, opinions, and feedback.

Make sure you are available to contact throughout all software development life cycles, and often be the first to start the communication. This will make your staff feel involved in the business and its operations, they may approach dilemmas in a different, more informal way to you, and it will further motivate them to achieve better results.

Regular communication will bond and uplift your team

12. Encourage Teamwork and Bond Your Team With the Time, Spent Together

The best kind of company is one where everyone works together cohesively. Encouraging and promoting teamwork boosts productivity because it makes employees feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.

Plus, every team occasionally faces problems related to low morale. Sometimes the morale of the team suffers because of poor leadership, poor communication, inflexible work conditions, team turnover, difficult co-workers, losing a big client or project, heavy workloads, or stress.

We recommend you connect with your team regularly in order to keep up the team spirit. It can be various team buildings, brainstorming sessions, simple hanging around together, ecological and social project launches, and even simply expressing appreciation by just saying “You did a good job”.

Cause even if a team possesses many experienced developers and QA engineers, without positivity and support from the leader, the team may lack the drive to thoroughly explore and resolve a product’s issues.

13. Encourage Your Team With Positive Feedback and Rewards

Recognizing team members for their contributions and efforts is a surefire way to boost their self-assurance, inquisitiveness, and drive. Regular validation of their accomplishments incentivizes the team to remain focused and make steady progress toward their goals.

Expressing gratitude with specific praise towards employees who excel in their work, put in extra effort, or achieve remarkable results is a great way to show appreciation. Instead of merely uttering “good job”, it’s essential to specify why it was a commendable performance and how it aided the company. This not only motivates the employees but also helps them to progress and succeed in future tasks.

Reward your team’s hard work and dedication with monetary incentives, thoughtful gifts, desirable perks, or the chance to take on more responsibility and independence.

Rewarding your people for good work will make them happier

14. Encourage Growth and Keep Up Their Curiosity

To identify hidden bugs and issues in any software product, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. A curious and proactive team will continue to search for answers, uncovering and addressing problems to enhance the product. Conversely, a dispassionate team may be content with accepting a product as “good enough”, overlooking untested areas that could benefit from further investigation.

To foster a culture of growth and development, nurture your employees’ curiosity through continuous learning and upskilling. Each employee’s unique needs should be considered when providing opportunities for professional advancements, such as personalized training, setting challenging benchmarks, mentoring, or offering shadowing experiences. Investing your own time in teaching and empowering your team can also aid in their growth and development.

15. Create a Healthy Office Environment

Our productivity, contentment, and creativity are strongly influenced by the environment in which we work. When employees are healthy and happy, their motivation and engagement are heightened.

Design a workspace that is not only functional but also pleasant for your employees to spend time in. Keep in mind factors such as privacy, noise levels, air quality, natural light, and comfortable areas to unwind. The ambiance should also be considered to create a soothing and comfortable work environment. It’s also important to promote healthy habits by offering healthy snacks and opportunities for exercise, such as gym memberships or team exercise classes.

It’s important not to overlook your remote staff members. Providing equal attention and support is crucial to fostering a positive work environment, even if their workspace is located at home.

To foster a healthy and productive work environment for remote employees, it is crucial to conduct frequent employee engagement surveys. These surveys can help identify areas in which remote employees may be struggling, allowing employers to provide the necessary support and resources. Regardless of their location, it is important to ensure that remote employees feel heard and valued.

16. Provide Employees With the Space for Their Growth and Success

It is essential to trust your employees and avoid micromanaging them. By doing this, you demonstrate confidence in their abilities and give them the freedom to accomplish their tasks in their unique way. This approach fosters a sense of autonomy that can motivate them to identify innovative and more efficient approaches to completing assignments, and identifying skills gaps or departmental opportunities along the way.

Allowing employees space to work efficiently is directly correlated with minimizing meetings and opting for asynchronous check-ins when feasible. By freeing up the calendar, you can provide your employees with the necessary time to focus on their work and achieve their optimal productivity levels.

Give your employees the space they need to boost their creativity

Becoming a Guru of Software Testing Roles and Responsibilities

So, at this stage, you already know everything that will help you form a good testing team. Now, let’s describe a successful testing team, the responsibility of testers, and how it should deal with any kind of situation that can happen 🙂

From the outset of the development cycle, a QA team plays an integral role and remains active even after the product’s release. Over the software’s lifespan, here are the main testing team roles and responsibilities:

  • Comprehending the Requirements of a Product

A good testing team should quickly comprehend the software’s features, set the right requirements for the testing, and understand the expectations of clients.

  • Test Planning

In the initial phases of product development, a professional QA team immerses itself in comprehending the product. Thereafter, they work extensively on creating a comprehensive testing framework that meticulously evaluates every feature. To ensure a foolproof testing strategy, the team engages in all the meetings and brainstorming sessions for the project.

  • Performing the Tests

Upon setting up a testing framework, the team proceeds to systematically perform a range of tests to identify and document defects, mistakes, and opportunities for enhancement. This is the core basement of the roles and responsibilities of any test engineer. To ensure optimal product quality and team productivity, the team recommends solutions to developers and subsequently confirms their efficacy.

  • Recording the Tests

Proper documentation of test results is crucial for efficient project management, and a good QA team can do it very well. Plus, valuable insights into the QA team’s procedures can be gleaned from the documentation, which new employees may find particularly useful.

  • Staying well-organized, positive, and motivated

The better characteristic and the harder responsibility of professional testers is staying productive in almost any circumstance. They should quickly decide on the roles and testing strategy shift, project tasks assignment, and any changes in the project development that may occur.

Help your QA team stay productive and positive in any circumstances

Thus, a perfect testing team is one that’s equally well-organized both internally and externally, has a cool head in crisis situations and in happy events, and is well-motivated to perform all the tasks. People in such a team know well their capabilities, and how they can help one another grow and are seeking to fill the knowledge gaps as soon as possible. They stay cool when something goes wrong and have enough courage and patience to continue testing when nothing seems to work.

Having such a QA team is not a dream – it’s a perfect goal to reach on the way to your business success. Just take this guide compiled by our specialists, follow our advice, and never stop! When you build your team using the test coverage methodology, you’ll be better prepared for those unanticipated problems. And you’ll avoid that groupthink mentality that often inhibits teams from quickly solving problems. And of course, ask us any QA-related questions you may have on this way – the DogQ team is here to help you!