Subject: Re:
From: aschiff -at- factset -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 15:22:31 -0500

Well, I manage a small Doc. Dept. (less than 10 of us.) In response to
Lief's questions:

<<How do you follow-up with your staff to ensure that they're completing
work assigned?>>

*Hold weekly department-wide status meetings, in which everyone (a)
provides an update on progress and (b) sets their own goals for what they
want to accomplish during the week. (both in writing).
*At the first meeting of each month, everyone sets their own goals for what
they want to accomplish during the month (in writing).
*If any dept. member's monthly goals are out-of-sync with our department's
priorities, I discuss it with him/her privately and we adjust the goals
accordingly. Ditto for any dept. member who is not meeting his/her goals or
who is not setting the bar high enough.
*In certain situations, if it's called for -- MICROMANAGE! This is NOT my
first choice, but I have done it. Just take a deep breath, launch MS
Project (or Word, or whatever your tool of choice is), and create a
DETAILED project plan, broken up into whatever level of granularity you
think is appropriate, with corresponding deadlines. Then give the employee
a copy and request that they submit you a weekly progress report.

<<How do you deal with people who are constantly grumpy and generally have
bad disposition?>>

Assuming that it does not interfere with the employee's performance, I'd
generally just limit myself to professional interaction. If it did affect
performance or upset/affected co-workers, I'd incorporate that into the
employee's quarterly/semi-annual/annual review and make it a point that
their annual performance evaluation would be based in part on attitude

<<How would you go about teaching/training a new technical writer? Or is it
something that they must pick up on there own?>>

See my answers to the first question. In addition, do internal training for
the newbie, spreading "lessons" across the entire team so that no one
person has to drop EVERYTHING to train someone. Break it up into general
areas: What to do when tasked with a new project; using the company's file
systems/knowing where to save stuff; using tools effectively (ie,
FrameMaker, Dreamweaver, graphics software); writing in a manner conforming
to the department style. Have everyone give the newbie small projects so
they can practice their skills in a non-"do or die" situation, then discuss
any errors or areas for improvement directly with the newbie. Then just
start giving them small, supervised projects. If the newbie is reasonably
intelligent, they'll pick it up.

Also, save all these "lessons" in a central repository so that you don't
have to reinvent the wheel for the next newbie!

Finally, don't forget to schedule a couple of one-on-one and group lunches,
happy hours, etc. so that the newbie gets to know everyone outside a
strictly-work context.

<<How would you deal with Sally and James?>>

Again, see my reply to Question 1. Regular weekly meetings are by no means
a panacea, but if you expect weekly & monthly progress reports from
EVERYBODY on a regular basis, then it's harder for individual employees to
justify being on the defensive about it. If you go that route & still sense
a lot of resentment, then I'd have an private, frank discussion about it
and ask them what the problem is. The bottom line is, you probably don't
WANT to micromanage these people, but you may have to, at least for now.
Once they are clearer on your expectations (and hopefully realize you're
not attacking them, just doing your job), they'll get with the program.

Hope this helps,
Abby Schiff
FactSet Research Systems Inc.


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