ReTestBash UK 2022 - Quality Coaching: Level 1 - Clare Norman

Quality Coaching: Level 1 with @clare_catherine

Talk Description

Testing is a superpower don’t keep it all to yourself!

I am a beginner quality coach and a self-confessed testing nerd. I started experimenting with quality coaching after reading the modern testing principles. I really love the ultimate goal of them which is to accelerate the team. In particular, they talk about expanding testing capabilities across your team as well as leading a quality culture. I had no previous knowledge and zero experience in this area but thought what’s the worst that could happen?!

Being the only tester in the department I really liked the idea of getting the developers around me to help out with testing. Not only that but as I freed up time by stepping away from physically testing every single feature, I was able to become more of an advocate and evangelist of testing. I stopped physically testing and started talking about testing. To anyone who would listen!

So if you’re asking how can I make the transition to quality coach? I’ll share how little nudges towards a long-term goal have worked well for me. Some lessons that I’ve learned so far include:

  • Don’t wait for permission! Your job title doesn’t need to say quality coach.
  • Find your allies. Locate the people who understand the need for testers.
  • Sell the benefits of this approach to your developers.
  • Make your testing work visible.

If like me, you’re looking to experiment with coaching I’ll talk about what techniques have worked in my team such as:

  • Talking about testing early. Give developers exposure to thinking about quality and testing before they write a line of code.
  • Asking developers about their testing. Continue the testing conversation during development!
  • Sharing testing knowledge with your developers. Pair testing has benefits for both parties.

I learned that knowledge isn’t something you lose the more you share it. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I believe anyone can try this out and you’ll discover testing nerds in your team that you didn’t know existed!

Anyone can experiment with quality coaching as long as you have the right attitude. I hope to demonstrate that quality coaching isn’t an area to be intimidated by and if you’re truly passionate about helping your team improve it isn’t as hard as you might think.


  • You will see my story of how I introduced the idea of quality coaching in my team as a complete novice
  • Learn about some simple experiments towards coaching that you can start tomorrow
  • How to talk about testing early and engage developers in your mission
  • How to make your testing visible to increase knowledge sharing

We’ll use this Club thread to share resources mentioned during the session and answer any questions we don’t get to during the live session.

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Questions Answered Live

@gwendiagram - is there a different technique to use when you’re remote working, is it more difficult to coach remotely?

Nicole Errante - Can you talk about what points/time in the development process you are doing some of the activities you talked about? (pair testing, the mind map you showed)

@sarah_oconnell - How do you handle a situation when the quality coach and development manager do not agree on the coaching advice being given specifically?

@tressaking - How would you handle working with external dev partners?

@philippa.jennings - Did you have any situations where a dev “forgot” to demo the work to you (bypassed)? If so, how did you manage that?

Questions Not Answered

@gwendiagram - Where do you see the future of testing going - if the role of a coach is to do themselves out of a job, what does the future of testing look like for testers?

@bethtesterleeds - Awesome talk Clare! Have the coaching skills you learned help you secure your latest role? Are you using them day to day?

@gwendiagram - Which book would you most highly recommend for quality coaching? You mentioned a few but I’m lazy!

@oxygenaddict - How can you get started with coaching in a very large organisation that is very “top down” (and you’re in a different continent)? Is it achievable?

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