Wednesday, November 7, 2007

High self esteem- An essential skill for a valuable tester

In one of my Previous posts , I talked about the Soft skills and their impact on Software testing in the current context. In this post I would like to further touch upon a specific soft skill that’s at the heart of all other soft skills. It’s the tester’s Self Esteem.

What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the total value one gives to self. The National Association for Self-Esteem defines self-esteem as "The experience of being capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness." Self esteem is an experience. It is a particular way of experiencing the self. It is one of the most important ingredients’ of success in one’s professional and personal lives. Self-esteem is a soft skill that has a maximum bearing on other Soft skills a person possesses. High self-esteem is the most desirable personality trait an individual can have. When a person feels good about self, he feels that anything is possible and goals can be achieved. Having such confidence is first step towards achieving anything substantial.

Self-esteem and Software Testers- A correlation
A Person’s self-esteem has an influence in each and every aspect of person’s life including professional and personal lives. Software testing profession is no different in this regard. There is an enormous correlation between Self-esteem and Software testing and this can be well understood if we consider various characteristics of people with low self-esteem and high self-esteem.

Testers with low self esteem….
People with low self-esteem have a fear of failure. They do fear failure and the changes that failure could bring. Such people imagine failure. This situation is not desirable for Software testers. Imagine a Software tester showing hesitation to take up new project or a kind of technology he/she is not too sure about because he/she is not sure whether taking up something new would be a success. Learning capabilities of a tester comes into picture only if he/she has a desire to indulge into something new. In my observation, such behavior is quite common among testers when they fail to recognize the opportunity to work on the right project just because they feel they might fail in their attempt or even if they do take up the project, they take it half-heartedly. They just let the opportunities go anticipating the failures.

People with low self-esteem tend not to take many risks. They do possess rather passive approach towards life. Like every other profession, person’s successes in Software Testing field too depend upon the risk taking abilities to a certain extent. Software testers’ grow in their professions when in addition to doing their current role to perfection, they initiate to think beyond their currently assigned roles and execute the additional responsibilities. Successful testers would always tend to take the path which is less traveled and do all that’s needed to be a success. Such kind of thinking itself involves courage to take risks. A tester with low self-esteem lacks such courage.

Having a goalless life or no high goals in life is one of the typical characteristic of people with low self-esteem. Such people have short-sightedness as far as their goals are concerned. Software testers are also highly effective in their careers and for their organizations if they have well-defined goals for themselves and for their profession. Having high goals in right direction definitely leads to innovativeness which is the need-of-the-hour for the Software testing profession and gives tester a necessary sense of direction.

Whenever a person with low self-esteem thinks of self, he tends to think about imperfections. As a result, these people tend to blame others for not achieving something. Things such as- “I am not able to find more bugs because Development team is not writing documentation” or “My boss prefers the fellow tester more, why should I push myself so hard ?” etc. This kind of attitude is definitely not positive and such attitude stops self-development. Most often, Software testing is a team activity. Having people blame each other for small things definitely does not lead to a desirable team environment and can affect the overall results. Such people have a hard time getting to terms with the fact that their colleague can be better than them. Definitely this is not an attitude that promotes team work.

People with low self-esteem constantly doubt their capabilities. As a result, they tend not to take initiatives even when they could easily have. Such people are hugely dependent on other’s approval. They exhibit low self confidence and resist change. Such a situation is counter-productive from the point of view of Software testing profession as tester has to deal with lot of changes e.g. Changes in requirements, projects, role etc. Such people have tendency to criticize every change because a change gets them out of their so called- “comfort zone”. Lack of confidence can have huge impact on tester’s credentials as the testers have to exhibit certain confidence to test the software to report the status effectively and to maintain the rapport with development team.

Testers with high self esteem….
On the other hand, the testers with high self-esteem-
- Have more faith in their abilities. This helps tester take more initiatives because such people are not dependent on other’s approval to try something new and worthwhile.
- Are more confident and such confidence shows up while testing, communicating and certainly the other aspects of the work.
- Have high goals and have tremendous clarity of goals. Also have a great ability to take risks to achieve their high well-planned goals towards self-development and advancement of Software testing profession.
- Have good self image leading to high personal expectations and have lesser self-doubt. Such people have a greater sense of purpose.

It is evident that testers with high self-esteem are definitely assets to Software testing profession. Low self esteem is often the root cause of other unpleasant and undesirable personality traits the tester may possess. Testers should take all the efforts to build high self-esteem and also work towards maintaining it for a life time.

Means to enhance self esteem among testers-
A tester owns a complete responsibility of the state of his/her self-esteem. He/She should take adequate measures to enhance the self-esteem at all times. Having said this, the leadership/Management also has an important role to play in this regard. Lets consider the some ways to enhance the self-esteem-

Knowledge enhancement
Software testing is a knowledge based industry. Often, knowledge on a certain aspect is a distinguishing factor between testers. A tester should not only always look to enhance knowledge by all means possible but also ensure the application of knowledge at the work-place. Successful implementation of such initiatives surely enhances self-esteem.

Encouragement for having higher goals
A Tester should always work to seek clarity of goals and should aim from something significant. Having clarity of goals reduces the distractions and prepares tester to achieve something significant for self and for the profession. The process of achieving such goals itself enhances self-esteem. Spending whole days without a set direction and meaningful goals often makes you feel bad about self at the end of the day.

Timely Appreciation
Having a proper recognition system in place for testers help enhance the self-esteem. There are various ways tester’s efforts can be recognized such as recognizing the efforts in various aspects of work such test case creation, testing, finding bugs etc. People in the leadership positions have important roles to play to make such programs successful and to ensure the testers are genuinely and timely appreciated for their efforts.
Think beyond current roles
Testers should always be encouraged not to fall in the rut of daily routine and think beyond their currently assigned roles. Of-course, this can be done effectively only when the testers are able to do their current roles to perfection. Thinking out-of-box and achieving noteworthy improvements to current way of doing things certainly enhances self-image.

Conquer fears
Having knowledge of self limitations and working towards getting rid of those limitations is a primary step towards self-development. Testers should always work to know their fears and then work towards eliminating them e.g. a tester may have fear to deliver a presentation to the group, or fear of change etc. Conquering fears by adopting step-by-step approach helps one feel good about self.

There can be many such ways to enhance self-esteem which a tester can think and implement. Getting rid of the traces of low self-esteem in your personality takes you closer to achieving success. Having awareness of your self-esteem and then subsequently working to enhance the same is first step towards achieving greater things for the profession.

1 comment:

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