Five Ways to Motivate Your Testing Team

Software testing can be a long, drawn-out process.

Endless cycles of testing and re-testing can negatively affect people’s morale. Leading to testers being less reluctant to work late if needed, or cover a weekend shift to track down a nasty bug that’s lurking in the system.

To get around this challenge, test managers need to ensure they are actively seeking new ways to motivate their team. But what one person finds motivating to them isn’t necessarily a universal truth that can apply to everyone.

In this article, I’ll describe some of the methods that can be leveraged to create an exciting environment for your testers to work in. One that promotes collaboration, rewards valuable work and enables you to get the best out of your testing team.

Create a culture that promotes sharing

Sharing our knowledge with others has multiple advantages. From being exposed to new ideas that help aid us in our professional growth. Empowering people with a sense of purpose and drive. And even gaining new insights and valuable new skills.

Nobody likes to feel like they’re just ‘doing stuff’ to pass the time. So creating a working environment where they feel like their knowledge matters. Motivates people to want to achieve more, do more and naturally, share more.

Recognise good work

In fast-moving teams in which there is always something new to test, deadlines to be aware of, and stakeholders to keep in the loop. It’s easy to forget about the tester who has discovered a mission-critical bug or helped in a standout way.

I know, I’ve done it myself.

Recognising your team members when they do excellent work helps you create closer bonds with your testers. Enabling a work environment in which people feel more engaged, but also a more happy and blissful workplace.

Turn failure into opportunities for learning

I recently read this quote by Bill Gates:

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.

IMDB (Personal quotes)

I wrote an article dedicated to mistakes and the learning opportunities they present. Which you can read here.

Don’t be afraid to share lessons of your past failures with your team. We all make mistakes. But allow others to learn from them as well to maximise the lessons they present.

Allow your team to do what they do best

No-one likes the feeling of being micromanaged.

The feeling that someone is always checking up on your work. Making sure you don’t mess up and further providing fuel to the feeling that you aren’t trusted at all.

If your testers are new to the job. Then it might be excusable to ask for more frequent status reports. Or feedback on their current progress.

But there is a fine line between this behaviour and annoying your employees. Instilling the idea that you don’t trust their abilities, or that you know better.

This can lead to people feeling devalued at work, burnout and ultimately, good employees leaving their roles.

Your testers know how to test. That’s why you hired them.

So leave them to it.

Ask what motivates your team

Testers are humans after all. Each one of us is unique and has our own needs and preferences. Take the time out of your day to speak to your team members and find out what motives them.

This might lead you to create a recognition program. Or tailored goal system that benefits the individual and the team.


Many studies performed over the years have shown that their #1 thing drives people are emotions.

The feeling that people are connected with their work, or that they are contributing to in a valuable way. Goes a long way in creating a culture that your testers want to be a part of. And promotes higher levels of creativity and innovative thinking.

In his 2010 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The author. Daniel H. Pink says:

“Management isn’t about walking around and seeing if people are in their offices,” he told me. It’s about creating conditions for people to do their best work.”

You are in the position as Test Team Leader to embrace some of the ideas described above. There are many others that I encourage you to explore so you can connect with your team. Enabling a happy tester, fired up and ready to accomplish what you need.

Posted by Kevin Tuck

Kevin Tuck is an ISTQB qualified software tester with nearly a decade of professional experience. Well versed in creating versatile and effective testing strategies. He offers a variety of collaborative software testing services. From managing your testing strategy, creating valuable automation assets, or serving as an additional resource.

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