Ep 62: Banishing the Permenantly Exhausted Pigeon

This week I talk to Neil Studd about motivation! We touch on a lot of stuff including but not limited to: burnout, 9-5 testers, neurodiversity, and more.

Summarised transcription provided by Matt Bretten:

  • In terms of trying to motivate myself and those around me, it’s a real challenge. People will brush it off as “just feelings” or “just emotions”, but it can have a profound physical impact on you if you bottle it up.
  • Change and the size of change can have a big effect on motivation. The role of testing is changing so much and our role boundaries are blurring. Ideas such as a “developer could do some of the testing” can lead to questions like “why do we need testers then?”. This sort of thing is uncomfortable for a lot of people.
  • When we’re talking about managing change, we’re not really talking about those people that listen to podcasts like this, as you’re likely to want to improve and react to change. We’re talking about those people that have no idea change is going on all around them, who don’t listen to the podcasts or go to meetups.
  • I find myself taking on far too much work and becoming burnt out, this can affect your motivation too. A technique to help with this is to make time to organise your work, even though this feels like work itself, it helps make sure you manage your time more effectively.
  • The Dunning-Kruger effect is always going on, each time you think you know enough, you find there are so many more things to learn. It can be hard to push through the downward cycle of motivation through feeling Imposter Syndrome.
  • Make sure your work-life balance is not just ok for you, but also the other people in your life.
  • There are many more reasons than just a lack of motivation for why “9 to 5” testers don’t come to meetups or learn about testing outside of work. People have families and commitments or some people like to have boundaries between their work and home life. Or people may not feel comfortable attending in person. The thing to focus on is whether or not people are willing to learn.
  • We should try and help those who can’t attend events by bringing the ideas to them in the workplace, through brown bag lunches or streaming talks. At the same time, we shouldn’t try to force people to pick up certain ideas but instead think about letting people find their own way to make use of these ideas. It’s useful to consider things like Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards.
  • It can be easier to change your current workplace than move to another workplace. You have reputation you can spend and you can try and find out why the workplace is resistant to a change you’d like to implement. However, not everyone is capable of speaking up about wanting change, there can be many reasons people might not feel comfortable or able to such as introversion, autism and deafness.
  • The challenge around motivation can be helped with a few simple things to keep in mind to help you along the right path:
    • Forge your own career path, don’t assume other people will do that for you. If you can take other people, great but don’t hold yourself back just because you feel you need to bring other people with you.
    • Use all of your tools are your disposal, find out the budget available, find out how much time you’ve got and find out how open your workplace is for going out to events. Make use of the skills available from the people around you.
    • Be true to yourself, have a sense of integrity and do things for the right reasons. If things go wrong you can at least know you don’t waste time second guessing your decisions.
    • Leave room to enjoy yourself outside of the office. If you want to work outside of the office, don’t feel you have to and don’t sacrifice other parts of your life in order to do so. Having extra happiness will enable you to be a better tester.


Neil’s blog post on 9 to 5 testers:

Sallyann Freudenberg’s CAST talk on Neurodiversity:

Meri Williams talk on stealing people lessons from AI, which touches on the motivators mentioned in Daniel Pink’s Drive:

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