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First day as a QA Lead — 3 things I learned the hard way

Sep 15, 2018 · 3 min read
A Lego Superman proudly standing on a rock

This article is the second part of a series of 5 articles about joining a startup as a QA Lead. You can read the previous part about how to prepare for a QA Lead role.

Do you know this feeling when you arrive at work on the first day and everything is so new? When your brain stretches every sense, desperately trying to grasp it all at once?

It’s saying: “Remember the meetings’ schedule. Remember what you said during the recruitment process. Remember to set up the computer. Remember people’s names. Remember to smile. Remember to remember. Remember…” — you know what I mean.

To be honest, I have experienced it every single time. That’s why I wrote this article. It’s one of the ‘I wish I knew’ messages. And it may help you, too.

So here, on the first day, I have three simple takeaways:

1. Take it easy

I know what you think — it’s easier said than done. And you’re right, because on the first day you may want to do everything.

But hold your horses.

Don’t be tempted to jump into the deep water straight away, no matter what pressure you may feel. The truth is, no one expects anything from you on the first day apart from getting to know your name.

That’s it.

So introduce yourself to the team, either by doing it yourself or asking your manager for a nice introduction — both will work. If you prepared for this day, connecting each person’s name and position should be much easier.

Same goes to your behaviour — take it easy. Don’t stress about how you’re going to be received. Although it’s important to make a good first impression, you shouldn’t try too hard. It’s not a one-off sales pitch you’re doing here — you are now part of the company. You’re starting a long-term game.

And yes — there’s always this social barrier when people are getting used to each other. But sooner or later everyone will recognise your best qualities.

So relax and take it easy.

2. Take notes

There’s no denying that on the first day you will be bombarded with information. Since your brain just can’t take it all, taking notes is a great way to go.

Not a writer? Not a problem.

Write down just the keywords — whatever your ear finds more interesting. It will create a shortcut in your mind and help you refer to it later on. And if you happen not to recall what it was about — just ask again. Even if it’s days or weeks later.

And when you ask — ask for a diagram. For a draw. For any graphical explanation. Visual interpretation is ten times more effective than a plain word. It helps your brain to digest information much easier.

And don’t worry — no one expects you to get it all in a second.

So offload your brain and take notes.

3. Take time

Joining a new company is a big thing — especially as the first one in a role. Sometimes that role may be so wide that it gets blurry what the responsibilities are.

But don’t get trapped.

It’s easy to get lost among all the things waiting to be picked up. Don’t get me wrong, but on this particular day, you should do none of them. Even if you’re already assigned a task.

What I’m saying is: you should not work.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Well, it’s tempting to have an impact from day one and become a saviour — like a superhero. It nearly feels like an expectation on your shoulders — a mighty robe.

But no.

If you’re really a hero, you’ll be saving every day — wearing a jumper and geek glasses. You can’t save everyone in a day.

Heroism takes time. And so should you.

Do you remember… what your brain was telling you to remember? Forget it.

There is only one ‘remember’: On the first day, save yourself.

That’s it from me.

If you look for more inspirations on the first day in a leadership role, I recommend you to check out this article by James Stanier. I also found this infographic helpful.

And in the third part of the series, you’ll learn how to get through the first week as a QA Lead.

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Dawid Dylowicz

Founder of More Than Testing