The first thing I noticed was how well and naturally my team took over testing during my absence. All stories had been thoroughly reviewed and released. The board looked awesome, only a few topics were in progress. The only thing left for me was to thank my team and tell them how much this support was appreciated and how they helped me return to work without stress.
Then a colleague approached me, asking me how things were going, how the preparations for my upcoming conference talks were coming along. I shared that I was in the middle of it and that I was getting a bit nervous already, and then she gave me this:
I was really blown away! This was so unbelievably nice of her. My new unicorn found its place at my desk and will now always remind me of her belief that everything will work out well. Hopefully it will also trick my own brain into believing this myself.Just received this awesome unicorn from a most awesome colleague, as support and encouragement regarding my public speaking endeavors 💜🦄 pic.twitter.com/F9mFm94iyN— Elisabeth Hocke (@lisihocke) 24. Juli 2017
My next highlight was that a teammate called a spontaneous mob to work on an especially tricky story and get through bumpy terrain. Not sure if he knows it, but I love it when we sit together with the whole team to find a great solution! I found that I always learn so much personally. I'm so happy that the team really accepted the idea of mobbing as a valid and productive development approach and that they call mobs themselves in case they see the need for support of the full brain power of the team, or the value in sharing knowledge. I initially triggered mobbing as experiment; nowadays they do it naturally, even if I'm not around (like last week when I was on vacation). We had a hilarious time hunting down a bug - until we finally realized that the implementation was working as expected, only our verification procedure was incorrect.
And last but not least, I had a very special insight today. Our last sprint ended and the next started. During the retrospective we did a temperature reading, asking all team members to rate the last sprint from one to ten, with ten being the most awesome sprint ever. Afterwards, we shared our thoughts why we didn't rate it a ten and what we would need to do that. Personally, I loved our collaboration, so I rated it a seven. The missing three? Well, I shared with my team that I was disappointed with my own performance during the sprint, or rather the last two sprints (not counting vacation time). I love my team for their support when it comes to stepping in and helping with testing. But the last weeks I had the impression I had to "use" their support too often as there were so many open topics to follow up on my desk. Many topics regarding my product team, many topics regarding our company's agile testing community, and also topics for the overall tech organization itself. Topics that I see as part of my tester role, topics I could not easily hand over to volunteers, topics that were important and some urgent as well. And, I admit, also a few topics where nobody took the initiative; which triggered me to take care that they are taken care of. So, having to ask my team several times for support left a bad impression in my head and triggered thoughts of "I'm not fulfilling my job," "My team will start to ask why I'm even here," and other self-destructive stuff. Rationally, I realized that I accomplished many things in the last weeks, but still those thoughts were starting to creep up and I just wanted to let them know about this. I assumed that I felt like that because so many things are going on in my life right now. The preparation for my conference talks is creating a lot of work in my free time as well, especially as the first test runs are coming up so that now I'm really feeling the pressure to deliver.
In response to my thoughts, the first teammate shared that he knows these issues himself. He wants to focus fully on his job and give his best there, so his strategy is to only do that and say no to everything else. And if some things are not taken care of - well, they're not taken care of. He said that this works for him and he can't tell if it would work for me as well. I really appreciated his feedback and effort to help me. My problem here: I feel I only do things that I see part of my job. I know that as a tester it's not unusual to have many topics on your desk. Normally I can cope with them well, but it's simply a lot these days.
And then another teammate spoke up and made my day, if not my year. She said she doesn't see any problem with my performance and everything is working so well. That I make a huge contribution to the team and she couldn't see how it would run so well without me. That she can come to me any time and ask me for support with any topic, whether product related, or company related, or anything, and that she knows that this takes time as well but that I'm always so friendly and helpful. That everything's fine and I should just take it easy. THANK YOU! This was the support and encouragement I needed so dearly at that moment. So much that I decided to share this story with the world; not because I want to brag about it, but to share it with those people out there having similar thoughts at times, to encourage them to open up so they can find support as well, and to ask all those who happen to be on the other side to provide this support themselves.
To my colleagues: Every one of you made my day(s). Thank you all.