There's a QA in our team who's proving a bit of a headache.
'Q' is a likable young software tester who joined our team a few months ago. I think he graduated last year. He's energetic, has bags of enthusiasm, and cares deeply about both the products we build and the general philosophy of software testing.
The problem, however, is that the way he works is very unfocused and often quite disruptive.
For example, Q loves to write documentation. Writing posts in our company wiki is probably Q's favorite activity of all. Not a day will go by without Q leaping into a conversation and proposing he writes some. He'll push and push and push, until someone vaguely assents, and then will resist all calls to do any testing, as writing the docs has become his new 'project'.
This is Q's general modus operandi. He seems to get very excited by work outside his core responsibility, will trample others to get an excuse to do it, and then prioritize that work above what the team needs. Q does not communicate when he's doing this, and there have been several times now he's committed to do certain work in the standup, only for me to discover late in the day that he's actually decided to do something totally different.
Q is also being shared among multiple teams. He seems to have great trouble planning his work and carving out time for each project's work. More than once has he agreed that today he'll work for our team, only to get pulled into doing something for another. Again, this would be acceptable if Q communicated more. He never, ever does, unless it's something of personal interest.
Q also has problems with attention more generally. He spends a lot of time on workplace Slack. He is by far the most vocal user in the company. He involves himself in conversations that he doesn't really need to engage in, and starts new ones that are frankly irrelevant. Q says he is giving himself important business context, which I do appreciate, but he is really struggling to complete the work we tell him we need. Honestly, to me, most of these conversations seem a bit irrelevant to his work.
I've been working with Q for several weeks now and this seems a consistent pattern. I'll be approaching his line manager tomorrow. I want to communicate that I like Q and want him to succeed, but that he needs to focus better and understand the difference between his own interests and the team's needs.
- What can we do to help him focus?
- How do we help him differentiate between urgent and nonurgent, important and unimportant?
- How do we get him to understand that work isn't necessarily about what's fun and interesting, but about getting a product shipped?
- Could I have the wrong end of the stick completely? How can I find out?
- How can I diplomatically get his line manager to take a more hands-on approach?