Influenced by Adewale Oshineyes session on Mapping Personal Practices, I lead a meeting on personnel development with one of my testers two weeks ago. Earlier this year I started to do some work on personnel development for my workers and we already had come up with four to six major categories worthwhile to consider as evolution points: Testing, Programming, Product Knowledge, Teamwork, Technical Leadership and Leaderhship with personal responsibility. Incluenced by this previous session, we came up with a mind map similarly structured.
First of all we build up the map with the personal practices of my colleague. Motivated by the flipchart page of our first session in January and Adewale’s session on mapping personal practices, we started off with the items my colleague already does to a reasonable degree and has already reached a good level in doing so. Our initial session was based on the Shu-Ha-Ri principle of Skillset development and we picked those practices where we agreed he had reached Ha-level already. For the Testing category this includes writing tests, bugtracking and bug verification and execution of regression tests on a regular basis. Related to our company’s products we identified knowledge for one of the major Sub-Products and one Component related to it that was built over the last year and my worker had tested heavily during this time period. Related to Teamwork we agreed on a great skill to support our developers and enabling team communications through direct contact and collaboration. I consider him to have huge strengths in these fields and respect him for this. He mastered a computer science degree with a minor subject in psychology, which of course helps in this field. Since he is rather on a junior level, there seemed to be no relevant practices for the programming and technical leadership category, so we left them empty.
We then started to discuss areas of improvement. Reconsidering each category, we were able to identify one point for improvements. For the testing portion we agreed on getting more knowledge related to User Acceptance Tests. Currently our teams have big problems with this item and on the last few Lessons Learned workshops during this year we realized that our company as a whole needs to improve in this field. Relying on his communication skills this is a good point to combine two areas, basically. Related to programming we agreed on the possibility to go out and ask for help when dealing with problems while doing some Fixture programming for our test automation. Here again I was happy to include his communication skills into this area of improvement by identifying this. Related to the knowledge of our product, we choose to get more insights into the second major component our Sub-Product has to deal with. This will not only give him a better overview of the value we deliver to our customer, but also enable him to find out hidden assumptions in the plug-ins we test for the Sub-Product 1 and that indirectly talk to Sub-Product 2. (I know, it’s hard to explain, if you cannot mention more context.) In the teamwork area we agreed on two major points for improvements in the whole organization and I think that he can help us work on these items a lot. We called this one Synchronisation. This is related to getting developers and testers to a common understanding of the solution, to include testers from the very beginning of the project and to include them in discussions about the solution. On the other hand we have co-workers spread all over the planet: Germany, Poland, Romenia, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Turkey, Ukraine, Malaysia. A usual project consists of people working in at least two countries. Therefore distributed collaboration is a major topic in our company. Related to his very good communication skills he can help us improve here. For technical leadership we both agreed that there needs to be improvement in the technical knowledge before starting a discussion here.
After finishing the mindmap, I was very proud of the result. During the next few months I will have to track the achievements in these fields, so we have again a discussion basis for the review we agreed to take place in early June. There is no impact on salary of the like based on the outcome. I just realized during the last year that I need to take care of my peers for personnel development since no one else did. Using mind maps on this improved the discussion a lot, I think. And I was able to incorporate his best skill – communication – into the remaining areas to help the organization as a whole. One side note I would like to add: Most of the practices and feedback came from my colleague. I tried to facilitate and help him find out ways to improve himself without demanding them. All of the discussion was of course done in collaboration, where the biggest contribution came from my worker. I also asked him afterwards if I will be allowed to publish it online here after anonymizing it. (I had to translate the german terms to english and get rid of and company’s product names.)