On Monday, the staff at Trust IV attended its annual Company Day. Held at the Cricklade House Hotel in Swindon, the workshop was facilitated by Tim Fuller of the Reality Business. The day had several aims which revolved around the themes of personal and team effectiveness.
Tim suggests that in the work place, to be the best individual you can be, you need to be both effective and efficient. It is common that individuals can be efficient but ineffective. This being, individuals unknowingly doing the WRONG tasks. One of the biggest battles within the Non Functional Testing world is to direct a client’s ideas about risks and testing; agreeing what we should be focussing resource on; and how the outcome of said ideas will help push our testing forward in terms of performance improvements. It is very easy for a new tester like myself to focus on the wrong things, but to do them efficiently. This deludes our perceptions of effective work
I would like to think that I know everything about myself and how I cope and function in a work place environment. But, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the things I learnt about myself during the course of the day. Tim said that there were five ‘drivers’ that drives individuals to achieve better. The drivers are; Be Strong, Be Perfect, Hurry Up, Try Hard and People Pleaser. Each driver has positive and negative traits. It is important for individuals to recognise their own drivers. Once this is done, you are able to identify and address your weaknesses and in turn become a more balanced individual. I can pinpoint my dominant drivers, however, I personally felt that I fell in to every category in one situation or another. Instead, the situation dictates what kind of approach I take to the task/s at hand.
Time utilisation was a big theme of the workshop. Prior to the company day, we were asked to record our actions for a typical working week on post-it notes. We then placed our post-it notes in to one of four categories;
Urgent Not Urgent
Important x x
Not Important x x
The task visually allowed us to comprehend where our time was being spent. It seemed that most of the teams time was spent doing ‘Important – Urgent’ tasks. This, you might think, is a good thing, but the key word here is Balance. If we spend too much time in this section we can quickly build high levels of stress and exhaustion.
Tim explained that emails, meetings and poor delegation were the biggest forms of ‘time wasting’ in the working place. We took a couple of minutes to discuss how we could improve this and we found some of the things to be noteworthy. The improvements suggested seemed pretty obvious to most, but we are creatures of habits and it's easy to fall in to bad ones and not realise it.
To finish the day, the group split in to two teams and were asked to perform a series of tasks. At first it seemed pretty straight forward. Most people jumped in with two feet, only to later realise that the tasks were mostly tricks to show our weaknesses. For example, rush-reading a task and then doing it completely wrong. This last assignment was a nice way to conclude the day. Whilst fun, the activities still held value from a personal-improvement perspective.
After a long day of deep discussion, we settled around the snooker room with a cold beverage and let the laughter commence. Overall, I believe that we had a marvellous day. It allowed us to not be directly scrutinised for our actions, but to realise ourselves where we need to improve. After all, there's no help like self help!