Re: Employee experience dilemma....

Subject: Re: Employee experience dilemma....
From: "Brian Harris" <blh -at- cyberscience -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 11 May 2000 17:34:57 +0100

Lisa's first ever effort at producing a technical document is *inevitably*
going to strike you as being error-prone and badly written, because you are
experienced technical writers and she is a complete novice.

Technical writing is a very specific genre of writing, and there is no
reason on earth why she should be immediately good at it on her first
attempt without direction and guidance.

The worst thing you can do, as far as I can see, is make an issue out of it
which could easily damage her confidence beyond repair, without first
discussing her task with her and giving her the kind of help she needs. It
sounds very much like you are isolating her by complaining about the
standard of her work behind her back and going over her head to discuss it.
Lisa would have every right to be upset and annoyed that you have escalated
this to management without first consulting her.

It's possible that just a few simple guidelines, or even just a few suitable
books to read, would enormously improve her work. Many of the things that
seem obvious to experienced technical writers are easily missed by first

OK, so the key question is, given her inexperience should she be given a
task of this magnitude to do by herself? Maybe not, but the best response
would be to take the opportunity to turn this project into a training
exercise in which you assist her in producing the manual . Nothing beats a
live project for learning on the job. Of course, if the project is
time-critical and you feel that you it won't be completed on schedule, then
it needs discussion as to how to proceed - but by everyone, including Lisa.
Maybe she secretly harbours ambitions to be in sales, and resents every
second she spends on TW. It's probably best if you found out. Communication
is the answer.

In summary, talk to her about it.

Brian Harris Technical Author
Cyberscience Corporation
blh -at- cyberscience -dot- com

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