testers and rude developers

Posted: September 5, 2010 in Software Testing

Testers find bugs.  One of the skills that good testers soon learn is how to communicate the bug without seeming to attack the developer who wrote the code.  Testers provide negative feedback, and it helps to criticize the product or code, and not the developer directly, and to be objective and not inflammatory in bug descriptions.

And, although this usually works, the tester will eventually run into rude developers.  Developers who belittle testers for not finding bugs quicker.  And, if a bug is found by a customer, developers that place all the blame squarely on the tester for missing the issue.

I’ve met a few of these.  When I was a test manager, one of the developers heavily criticized one of my team members for missing issues.  I tried to coach my tester on  managing relationships, better bug finding, and not being bothered by it, but the relationship between the tester and developer was always strained from that point, and our product suffered.  I reget that I didn’t do more to prevent developer from continuing their behavior.

And I’ve been on the receiving end.  I’ve had developers throw tantrums, call me an idiot, and tell my boss that I was incompetent.  It doesn’t feel nice.  And sadly, many of these developers are rewarded for their poor behavior.  They seem to be have career success, including promotions, partly due to their strong, assertive personality.  I try to be open to feedback, but not when it crosses the line and becomes a personal attack or places all the blame on testers for missing issues.

What are the options?

  • Reality check.  Are you being too sensitive?  Discuss your interaction with someone else to see if they crossed the line.
  • Let it pass.  Perhaps the person is having a bad day, or has other stress.
  • Avoidance.  If you can avoid working with an abusive personality, it will be better for you.  Unfortunately for your company, the person will likely continue their ways.
  • Quick correction. Make it clear that you’re willing to be objective and discuss product issues, but you don’t appreciate the swearing or personal attacks.
  • Manager feedback.  Your developer’s manager should be their coach and interested in helping them succeed.  Rude behaviour is not a long term strategy for corporate success.  Be prepared with specific examples, and hope for an open reception.

I don’t need to be best friends with all of my co-workers, but civil, respectful behavior in the workplace should be universal.

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Comments
  1. Joe says:

    >>”… sadly, many of these developers are rewarded for their poor behavior. They seem to be have career success, including promotions, partly due to their strong, assertive personality….”

    Says everything one needs to know about working at Microsoft.

    • alanmyrvold says:

      I don’t think this is just Microsoft, or even specific to the tester / developer dynamic. In Warren Bennis’ excellent book, “On Becoming a Leader”, ther there is a great story about similar behavior outside of software and Microsoft, and the initial career success due to it.

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