RE: What is a reasonable training period for newbie writers?

Subject: RE: What is a reasonable training period for newbie writers?
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 10 Nov 2000 14:31:23 -0700

> ...The problem is
> how one decides if a person isn't shaping up. Since they have no
> experience as a technical writer, how much of is the manager's fault,
> how much is the fact that they're just never going to cut it (and how do
> you tell that early?), and how much is the fact that they're brand
> new to the field and have a big learning curve?

That is indeed the problem. But that is always the problem not only for
training newbies but for reviewing old timers. What criteria do you hold
someone accountable to? And how to do address the shortcomings. I have
trained a few fresh-from-undergrad writers and the trick as far as I am
concerned is to hold the bar high enough that they don't think its easy and
low enough that they don't quit. That is a manager's task. If good people
quit then the issue is usually corporate culture or direct management.

When you hire someone, you have to give them a fair shake and you have to
develop criteria that are not impossible to meet. Then you have to give the
employee the tools and training to meet the criteria. In most cases the
most important criteria is employee specific. In all cases there are
minimum criteria, such as in 3 months time, the newbie should be more than
minimally proficient at all tools required for the job.

How you address shortcomings is a management issue that again is individual
specific. Every manager is different, luckily. If you are a manager
looking for specific help on an issue, perhaps you should now rephrase your
question to a specific issue. If you are looking to be a manager, then you
should decide if these are the types of decisions you are comfortable
making.

Regardless, you seem to have the issue well in hand.

walden miller
director of engineering services
vidiom systems
boulder, colorado



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