Does the “just a job” mentality breed “fake testers”?

I recently re-read one of Tony Bruce’s blog posts the other day: “Which do you have? A job or a career?”.  The post poses the question about whether you see yourself as someone who has a “just a job” mentality; where you don’t enjoy what you are doing day-to-day, you clock watch, your day seems to drag in very slowly, you have a lack of interest and enthusiasm, you essentially work to simply earn money and you live for the weekend…

And on the flip side of that, people who have the “career” mentality, have a passion for what they do, they actively seek to self-learn more about what they do; they are very enthusiastic about their job because they enjoy it.

You see, the reason I wanted to revisit Tony’s post was because I recently got involved in a discussion about “fake testers” and it struck me that the “job vs career” mentality can closely relate to the reasons behind why someone might be a “fake tester” or not.

If someone was in a “job” that they don’t enjoy doing, then they’d most likely be bored, be clock watching, be skiving… anything to avoid doing the boring (as they see it) work that needed done… They’d probably do the minimum amount of work/effort to not raise suspicion, and they’d be “faking” every day with their bosses.

And vice-versa! If someone loves what they do and they have the “career” mentality, then they will naturally have an enthusiasm for their work and will therefore make the effort to learn, put in extra effort, spend extra time on their work, better their processes, etc…

I believe that the “fake tester” mentality could stem from someone having that “just-a-job” mentality rather than being in the “career” mentality…

Thinking about it, the two seem to go hand in hand!

What do you think?

 

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18 thoughts on “Does the “just a job” mentality breed “fake testers”?

  1. I think this relates to almost every single profession. Just look at the “great ones” in everything. They LOVED what they did for living, hence saught every opportunity to get better at it. I do think that you can be a “decent” professional if you are “good” at your job (whatever that means in certain professions), but it takes so much more to be outstanding. That is not a 9-5 thing 🙂 Also I think you find money-driven people are less passionate about their jobs and their development stops after a while. Because they loose focus on what was important when they started.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Zsuzsa!

      You are right! The job or career mentality does apply to probably every job position out there… as does the “fake” mentality. It just seems to me that I hear about more “fake tester” stories and blogs that I do about any other industry…

      You can definitely be good/great at your job, and not be an “industry leader”. Some people don’t want to be “industry leaders” and there is nothing wrong with that.

      I think that in order to be good/great at your work though, you kind of have to be interested in what you do, and strive to reach that level. And I think that people who don’t have an interest in what they do will struggle to put the effort in…

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  2. Interesting what you write there about industry leaders. Probably right for testing and IT – however I find it that in my profession it is completely different. The “BIG INDUSTRY LEADERS” we have are rather out of touch with what is going on “on the floor” and what we struggle with on a daily basis. I find it a bit offputting that we hire “trainers/leaders” for 1-2 day sessions for minblowing amounts on money and they have hardly any impact on us/our way of working. Not to mention that sometimes what they preach sounds really “cool” and all that (mostly around social media) but the efficiency is highly dubious. Do you find this happens in your area as well? Someone coming to “teach” you stuff and it is completely useless?

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    1. Hey Phil! That’s a great question! 🙂

      One suitable definition of “Fake” (at least according to various free online dictionaries) is “being non genuine, but to contrive and simulate being genuine”.
      This can definitely be applied to some people in our industry, or any industry I guess.

      But specifically relating to our industry, I believe that the phrase “fake tester” can apply to someone who puts minimal effort into testing the product that they are supposed to be testing, and perhaps even says that they have tested something, when they haven’t. And puts minimal care into their work, but rather focuses on covering their tracks so that any accountability does not lie with them…

      I’ve known people like this. And with these people that I’ve known, I believe they had this mentality because they had no interest in being a software tester, but they were in the job just as a “stepping stone” on their way to trying trying to become a developer…

      I’m interested to hear if you have the same (or similar) definition?

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      1. I dont think of these people as fake, they’re just 9-5ers who do what they are told and no more. To them it’s just a job and a paycheck and I wont point a finger at them. They are given a target of 6 test cases to run or write a day, they do 6 then get onto Facebook for the rest of the day

        For fake testers I think more along the lines of this presentation by James Bach – http://www.satisfice.com/presentations/fake.pdf – people that think they are doing testing because they have lots of metrics, test case counts, reports, they love using QC and think the s/w industry should be like bridge building with ‘proper’ engineering discipline. Surf over to LinkedIn discussions and you’ll find plenty of people thinking that way

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      2. Thanks for the link Phil! I hadn’t come across these slides before…

        I guess what I was trying to say is sort of implied in what James Bach’s presentation says, where people might lie and “pull the wool over the manager’s eyes”…

        I guess it’s different if you employ someone in the sense of getting them to check against scripts, and to not get them involved in any other testing tasks. I didn’t actually think about that scenario, but I guess “fake tester” /could/ still apply to those people /if/ they cut corners, skip over scripts but mark them as passed, and generally pretend that they are doing work that they are not.
        (Just to clarify: I’m not saying that people who are in a job that requires them to only do a set amount of testing tasks are fake… What I’m saying is that people who dont do what is required of them, but instead pretend that they have done their tasks and spend a minimal amount of effort to cover their tracks, might be considered as being “fake”…).

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      3. Phil,

        I was reading your comment again and want to ask about James Bach’s definition that you mentioned:
        “people that think they are doing testing because they have lots of metrics, test case counts, reports, they love using QC and think the s/w industry should be like bridge building with ‘proper’ engineering discipline. ”

        This definition implies that a tester can be fake without /knowing/ that they are being fake.
        And in fact, they might be very enthusiastic about being a tester and about their work, but still might be “fake”…
        This definition kind of blows my post out of the water! 🙂

        Can this be right though? Surely “fake” is the wrong word for this definition, as do you not need to be aware of the situation in order to act fake? Maybe “misguided” is a better fit for this definition?

        Interested to hear your thoughts!

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  3. Guess I’m guilty. I used to have a “career” (enthusiasm et al.), but now I treat it as just a “job”. But am I a “fake” tester. Hardly. I believe in doing good work and being the best in my field/position. I do enjoy my work, but I have become more realistic about what I should be “emotionally” invested in and not.
    The problem is after a while you decide to make life choices regarding a balance. I believe in the work/life balance. Because if you become too lopsided (to far one direction) you will either burn out or just not give a crap. Early in my career I was all about “career”. But it almost killed me (literally) physically (and mentally) because I worked so much and got so wrapped in the work and company that it took its toll (a heavy one). I was burning both ends of the candle, and the middle too, with a blow torch.
    After that I decided to work more sane hours and to detach a bit from my work. I still have a tendency to do the Kamikaze routine on projects, but I make sure to get time back afterwards. Work hard, play hard. But all the while I’m still the same tester doing the job, just being a bit more smart about it and level headed.
    So if treating my work as a “job” as part of my “career” then I’m guilty. But I don’t think so. I’ve had a long career, 25+ years, in software testing and I intend to keep doing the job until my career ends. It’s a matter of perspective.

    Jim Hazen

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    1. I would never have you down as a fake tester, Jim – see my reply to Dan where I put an alternative definition of ‘fake’ (or more accurately I put the one from James Bach ) than the one he uses in this post

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    2. Hey Jim!
      Sorry… I should clarify – i wasn’t saying that people who have the “job” mentality /are/ fake testers… I was saying that this mentality might /stem/ the “fake” behavior. Additionally, I feel I should clarify that when I mention about “job” stemming “fake”, I’m talking about people who are in “jobs” that have no interest in the job that they are in…

      That’s an excellent point that you make about having an emotional balance. This is something that I completely failed to take into account when thinking about this! This fact has actually changed my opinion a bit on Tony’s original blog about the subject!
      But with your situation, it could be argued that you still have that “career” mentality, as you still have enthusiasm around your work and you still strive to do a good job in the tasks that you have. But at the same time you have a healthy balance with work/life.

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  4. Dan,
    “Fake” and “Faking it” are two different things. Fake in the literal sense means an imitation of the original, faking it means you do “something” to appear that you are really doing what needs to be done. Faking it is a deception of the situation, a misleading of the unknowing people involved. I believe that is what James Bach was getting at.
    I’m not in total agreement with James on what all testing is and how it should be done. Admittedly I’m more engineering/science approach oriented, while James is more psychological/situational oriented. Thus James is part of the Contextual school of thought. I see merit in that, but don’t see it as the whole solution. I’m trained in the Natural Sciences and employ the Scientific Methodology approach to testing. I tend towards the Quantitative Analysis side (how much of something in this particular item), James is more about the Qualitative Analysis side (what is this thing, what is it comprised of) in my opinion.
    Which is a good thing to do. You need to do both, but unfortunately we get stuck in the rut of the quantitative due to time constraints and other project factors. This is where I agree with James about the front-end discovery work for testing. How can you know how much of something exists (quantitative) in an item without first identifying what the item is comprised of (qualitative). More of a taxonomy classification approach is needed in testing.
    I guess, back to your point, you could say I do have a career focus to my job now. A long time ago when I got into Testing I saw it as a potential career from the standpoint of a niche market to work in. Something to differentiate me from other software people (I started off as a programmer). I saw the need for this type of work, and as part of it I have specialized again in the testing world with automation (tooling). This way I keep my programmer side satisfied. In the end though I have kept my “career” going by keeping things in perspective with seeing the work as a job (and one I think I do pretty well), and making sure I “work to live” and not “live to work”. Until I win the lottery I’m continuing on with my life in the trenches.

    Jim

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    1. That’s interesting! I’ve didn’t differentiate between “fake” and “faking it”…
      I simply interpreted “Fake”, in the verb sense. (To steal a definition from an online dictionary as an example: “To create or render so as to mislead, deceive, or defraud others”), and I interpreted “faking” simply as a present participle of the verb “fake”…

      Regarding what you say about keeping things in perspective when it comes to a job, the more I think about it the more you are completely right! Perhaps “job vs career” are the wrong words to use… I should have used “job discontent vs job satisfaction”, which is actually what I was trying to emphasize in my post! 🙂

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