One of the tricky things when trying to improve yourself is connecting a high level goal to specific day to day actions that will get you there. How do you get from “Within 9 months I want to be a lead tester that people seek help from.” to “Here’s what I have to do this week to achieve that.” ? Lots of people seem to end up doing their job and hoping that intention and osmosis will get them there eventually.
Here’s a simple thing that I’ve found works for me. I also use it with people I manage and it’s a good way to frame development as something that happens all the time rather than just as part of the annual/6 month performance review.
Each Monday, decide one extra thing that you’re going to do *this week* to work towards your goal. It has to an explicit action, that you can tick off (in other words, make it SMART) and it has to be something that isn’t just part of doing your job well, and it has to be something that will help you reach your goal (even if it’s not obvious that it’s the best thing to do).
Tell someone what you’re doing (telling your manager in your one-on-one is great, as it reminds them that you’re pushing your development and willing to do more than “just your job”, and it also gives you both a chance to discuss/agree other actions too). Then do it.
The actions don’t have to be big – for example…
- I will ask Dave the Developer to review the structure of the test script functions that I’m writing, and I’ll find at least one thing in his feedback that I can apply next time I write scripts.
- I will read James Bach’s blog and brief the team about one thing that I’ve learned and applied.
- I will spend an hour paired testing with Laura the Lead Tester, and note at least two things that she does that I should regularly do when testing. I’ll explicitly do those later this week.
- I will review my notes taken during testing sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, and find 2 holes where I should go back and retest.
Also, note that some of those examples involve other people. You’ll need to check with the other people that they’re up for helping you, but if you ask people for small specific bits of help to learn to be good like them, they almost always say yes.