FWD: Dealing with a challenging work situation

Subject: FWD: Dealing with a challenging work situation
From: anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2001 19:44:04 -0700 (MST)

Hi, Tech-whirlers. I'm hoping you can give me some
insight into my situation.

I have been a tech writer (first job doing this) for a
little over a year at a company that manufactures
scientific analytical equipment. There are three
people in my group -- my boss, me and one other
writer. We are each responsible for a product line.
For each product, the group is supposed to produce a
system operator's guide, system hardware manual and
various component manuals.

In the past year, I am the only one in the group who
released any manuals. In that time, I released 33 new
or revised manuals. By released, I mean wrote a
change order to announce the manual(s). Our manuals
are assigned their own part numbers, and this makes
them controlled documents.

My boss seems to work very hard, and I know it's
difficult to be a working manager. But somehow he
never seems to finish a manual.

The other writer in the group started in June and this
company's technology is new to him. He has not
received much training, just as I did not.

There are other projects going on within the group
that I haven't been very active in. For example, we
have obsolete manuals that have been scanned and need
to be reviewed before the paper copies are discarded.

However, I have contributed to the group by writing
procedures, researching software, etc.

The manuals for the two product lines my boss and the
other writer are responsible for are not in good
shape. In some cases, the system hardware manuals and
component manuals for products were never completed.

I don't understand how this situation can continue to
exist, except that the company's expectations of the
group are extremely low. My boss's boss is the new
head of the department, so I'm not inclined to go to
him. Plus, I don't really want to "rat out" my boss.
I guess I just don't understand how this can be. It
certain doesn't strike me as normal.

In addition, my boss has lately been making statements
to the effect that he feels I am not aggressive enough
in getting information from my SMEs. As you can
imagine, this doesn't sit well, especially since I
have not had any problems getting the information I
need to produce the manuals.

FYI, I have also done marketing writing for this
company on my own time, because of my familiarity with
the technology and its end users. Because of my lab
background, I have even assisted with a customer demo
and given other support to the lab scientists.

I feel like my efforts to produce quality manuals for
this company are being lost amidst the general
problems of the group. My efforts to add value to my
employment here by writing marketing materials,
assisting in the lab, etc., have had little impact.

Complicating matters is the threat of layoffs if we
don't hit the numbers for the fourth quarter. I
believe our group could be targeted, and it's somewhat

I do plan to start a job hunt soon. I may have a job
in a neighboring state, but it may take several months
before it materializes. I just need to know how to
deal with things here until that time.

I'm old enough to know better than to expect
fulfillment from any job. But I do feel like the
performance of others is having an impact on me, which
I expect to be reflected in my performance review and
raise this month. (Our company is moving toward
rating and ranking. I don't see my boss pushing very
hard for me, simply because that's not his
personality. Nor do I see the writers as being
valued, which will also affect my rating. In my last
job, a lab job, I made out like a bandit under rating
and ranking, even though the company was in a slump.)

Any perspective you can help me gain would be greatly appreciated.

Forwarded anonymously on request. If you want the
original poster to see your response, you must reply
to the TECHWR-L list. All direct replies to this
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ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com with questions.

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